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Full text of "Thoughts From Our Founding Fathers"

Thoughts From Our Founding Fathers 

By: B.A. Brooks 




ThaiA,fe uou. for r&ttd'nA,c>j HA,y e^ook.: :Thou.ghts From. Our 
FoufAii'nA.c>j Fathers". The itArforvyitttiofA, wlthli/v these pages wlLL 
show the r&ad&r ex«ctLb| what the great m,eiA, who wrote our 
coiA,stLtu.tLoiA, had to shlj about preserVLiA,g our -freedom,s a\A.d how 
e«SLj It wlLL be to Lose those s«m,e freedom,s. A m,ust read -for all 
Am,erLC«iA,s. c:^o to The Hi^Lted Am,erLC«b^ Freedom, Foui^dwtloiA, at: 
http;//www.u«ff.us for brenfeliA-g iA,ews avid coiA,stniA,t updates oia, 
the patriot m.ovem.eiA,t aiA.d other wLteriA-fltlve iA,ews -frowi arouv\.d 
the world. 



B-.A. Broofes 



John Adams 



Benjamin Franklin 



Alexander Hamilton 



Thomas Jefferson 



James Madison 



Thomas Paine 



George Washington 



2009 B.A. Brooks All Rights Reserved 




John Adams 



A constitution founded on these principles introduces knowledge among the people, and 
inspires them with a conscious dignity becoming freemen; a general emulation takes 
place, which causes good humor, sociability, good manners, and good morals to be 
general. That elevation of sentiment inspired by such a government, makes the common 
people brave and enterprising. That ambition which is inspired by it makes them sober, 
industrious, and frugal. 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 

As good government is an empire of laws, how shall your laws be made? In a large 
society, inhabiting an extensive country, it is impossible that the whole should assemble 
to make laws. The first necessary step, then, is to depute power from the many to a few of 
the most wise and good. 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 

As long as Property exists, it will accumulate in Individuals and Families. As long as 
Marriage exists. Knowledge, Property and Influence will accumulate in Families. 
John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, July 16, 1814 

But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. 

Liberty, once lost, is lost forever. 

John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 17, 1775 



Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom. 
John Adams, Defense of the Constitutions, 1787 



But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The 
Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds 
and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and 
obligations... This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of 
the people was the real American Revolution. 
John Adams, letter to H. Niles, February 13, 1818 

Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, 
liberty, and property, according to standing laws. He is obliged, consequently, to 
contribute his share to the expense of this protection; and to give his personal service, or 
an equivalent, when necessary. But no part of the property of any individual can, with 
justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of 
the representative body of the people. In fine, the people of this commonwealth are not 
controllable by any other laws than those to which their constitutional representative body 
have given their consent. 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 

Every measure of prudence, therefore, ought to be assumed for the eventual total 
extirpation of slavery from the United States.... I have, throughout my whole life, held the 
practice of slavery in... abhorrence. 
John Adams, letter to Evans, June 8, 1819 

Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion, and 
renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans 
will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it. 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 

Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and 
happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, 
family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, 
and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the 
same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it. 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 

His Example is now complete, and it will teach wisdom and virtue to magistrates, 
citizens, and men, not only in the present age, but in future generations, as long as our 
history shall be read. 
John Adams, message to the U.S. Senate, December 19, 1799 

Human government is more or less perfect as it approaches nearer or diverges farther 
from the imitation of this perfect plan of divine and moral government. 
John Adams, draft of a Newspaper Communication, Circa August 1770 



Human nature itself is evermore an advocate for liberty. There is also in human nature a 
resentment of injury, and indignation against wrong. A love of truth and a veneration of 
virtue. These amiable passions, are the "latent spark"... If the people are capable of 
understanding, seeing and feeling the differences between true and false, right and wrong, 
virtue and vice, to what better principle can the friends of mankind apply than to the sense 
of this difference? 
John Adams, the Novanglus, 1 775 

I have accepted a seat in the [Massachusetts] House of Representatives, and thereby have 
consented to my own ruin, to your ruin, and the ruin of our children. I give you this 
warning, that you may prepare your mind for your fate. 
John Adams, to Abigail Adams, May 1770 

I Pray Heaven to Bestow The Best of Blessing on THIS HOUSE, and on ALL that shall 
hereafter Inhabit it. May none but Honest and Wise Men ever rule under This Roof! 
John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, November 2, 1800 

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and 

philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural 

history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give 

their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and 

porcelain. 

John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, 1780 

If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential 
natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely 
vacate such renunciation; the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in 
the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave. 
John Adams, Rights of the Colonists, 1772 

If there is a form of government, then, whose principle and foundation is virtue, will not 
every sober man acknowledge it better calculated to promote the general happiness than 
any other form? 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 

In the midst of these pleasing ideas we should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever 
lose sight of the danger to our liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the 
purity of our free, fair, virtuous, and independent elections. If an 
John Adams, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1797 

Independence forever. 

John Adams' last public words as a toast for the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of 

the Declaration of Independence 



Independence forever. 

John Adams, last public words as a toast for the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of 

the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1826 

It already appears, that there must be in every society of men superiors and inferiors, 

because God has laid in the constitution and course of nature the foundations of the 

distinction. 

John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 

It has ever been my hobby-horse to see rising in America an empire of liberty, and a 
prospect of two or three hundred millions of freemen, without one noble or one king 
among them. You say it is impossible. If I should agree with you in this, I would still say, 
let us try the experiment, and preserve our equality as long as we can. A better system of 
education for the common people might preserve them long from such artificial 
inequalities as are prejudicial to society, by confounding the natural distinctions of right 
and wrong, virtue and vice. 
John Adams, letter to Count Sarsfield, February 3, 1786 

It is the duty of all men in society, publicly, and at stated seasons, to worship the 
SUPREME BEING, the great Creator and Preserver of the universe. And no subject shall 
be hurt, molested, or restrained, in his person, liberty, or estate, for worshipping GOD in 
the manner most agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience; or for his religious 
profession or sentiments; provided he doth not disturb the public peace, or obstruct others 
in their religious worship. 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 

It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to 
God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shrews, Games, 
Sports, guns. Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the 
other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with 
Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will 
cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all 
the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more 
than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will triumph in that Days Transaction, even 
although We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not. 
John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 3, 1776 

It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt 
their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an 
habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition 
to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue. If we suffer their minds to grovel and creep 
in infancy, they will grovel all their lives. 
John Adams, Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law , 1756 



Laws for the liberal education of the youth, especially of the lower class of the people, are 
so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this 
purpose would be thought extravagant. 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 

Let the pulpit resound with the doctrine and sentiments of religious liberty. Let us hear of 
the dignity of man's nature, and the noble rank he holds among the works of God... Let it 
be known that British liberties are not the grants of princes and parliaments. 
John Adams, Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1 765 

Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a 

right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does 

nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, 

they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most 

dreaded and envied kind of knowledge; I mean, of the characters and conduct of their 

rulers. 

John Adams, Dissertation on Canon and Feudal Law , 1765 

Liberty must at all hazards be supported. We have a right to it, derived from our Maker. 
But if we had not, our fathers have earned and bought it for us, at the expense of their 
ease, their estates, their pleasure, and their blood. 
John Adams, A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law, 1 765 

Men must be ready, they must pride themselves and be happy to sacrifice their private 
pleasures, passions and interests, nay, their private friendships and dearest connections, 
when they stand in competition with the rights of society. 
John Adams, letter to Mercy Warren, April 16, 1776 

National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman. 
John Adams, letter to James Lloyd, January, 1815 

Objects of the most stupendous magnitude, and measure in which the lives and liberties 
of millions yet unborn are intimately interested, are now before us. We are in the very 
midst of a revolution the most complete, unexpected and remarkable of any in the history 
of nations. 
John Adams, letter to William Cushing, June 9, 1 776 

Public affairs go on pretty much as usual: perpetual chicanery and rather more personal 
abuse than there used to be... Our American Chivalry is the worst in the world. It has no 
Laws, no bounds, no definitions; it seems to be all a Caprice. 
John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, April 17, 1826 

Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself 
There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. 
John Adams, letter to John Taylor, April 15, 1814 



Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only 
foundation of republics. There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public 
interest, honor, power and glory, established in the minds of the people, or there can be 
no republican government, nor any real liberty: and this public passion must be superior 
to all private passions. 
John Adams, letter to Mercy Warren, April 16, 1776 

That, as a republic is the best of governments, so that particular arrangements of the 
powers of society, or, in other words, that form of government which is best contrived to 
secure an impartial and exact execution of the laws, is the best of republics. 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 

The deliberate union of so great and various a people in such a place, is without all 
partiality or prejudice, if not the greatest exertion of human understanding, the greatest 
single effort of national deliberation that the world has ever seen. 
John Adams, quoted in a letter from Rufus King to Theophilus Parsons, February 20, 

1788 

The dignity and stability of government in all its branches, the morals of the people, and 
every blessing of society depend so much upon an upright and skillful administration of 
justice, that the judicial power ought to be distinct from both the legislative and 
executive, and independent upon both, that so it may be a check upon both, and both 
should be checks upon that. 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 

The dons, the bashaws, the grandees, the patricians, the sachems, the nabobs, call them by 
what names you please, sigh and groan and fret, and sometimes stamp and foam and 
curse, but all in vain. The decree is gone forth, and it cannot be recalled, that a more equal 
liberty than has prevailed in other parts of the earth must be established in America. 
John Adams, letter to Patrick Henry, June 3, 1 776 

The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families.... How is it possible 
that Children can have any just Sense of the sacred Obligations of Morality or Religion if, 
from their earliest Infancy, they learn their Mothers live in habitual Infidelity to their 
fathers, and their fathers in as constant Infidelity to their Mothers? 
John Adams, Diary, June 2, 1 778 

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of 
God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and 
tyranny commence. If 'Thou shalt not covet' and 'Thou shalt not steal' were 
John Adams, A Defense of the American Constitutions, 1787 

They define a republic to be a government of laws, and not of men. 
John Adams, Novanglus No. 7, March 6, 1 775 



The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of 
God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and 
tyranny commence. If ' Thou shalt not covet' and ' Thou shalt not steal' were not 
commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before 
it can be civilized or made free. 
John Adams, A Defense of the American Constitutions, 1787 

The only foundation of a free Constitution, is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired 
into our People, in a great Measure, than they have it now. They may change their Rulers, 
and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. 
John Adams, letter to Zabdiel Adams, June 21, 1776 

The rich, the well-born, and the able, acquire and influence among the people that will 
soon be too much for simple honesty and plain sense, in a house of representatives. The 
most illustrious of them must, therefore, be separated from the mass, and placed by 
themselves in a senate; this is, to all honest and useful intents, an ostracism. 
John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of 
America, vol 1, 1787 

There is no good government but what is republican. That the only valuable part of the 
British constitution is so; for the true idea of a republic is "an empire of laws, and not of 
men." That, as a republic is the best of governments, so that particular arrangement of the 
powers of society, or in other words, that form of government which is best contrived to 
secure an impartial and exact execution of the law, is the best of republics. 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 

Thomas Jefferson still lives. 

John Adams, after waking momentarily, afternoon July 4, 1826 

To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion, except in 
private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, counties or districts of a state, is to 
demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by 
no man; it is a dissolution of the government. The fundamental law of the militia is, that 
it be created, directed and commanded by the laws, and ever for the support of the laws. 
John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of the United States, 1787-1788 

Upon this point all speculative politicians will agree, that the happiness of society is the 
end of government, as all divines and moral philosophers will agree that the happiness of 
the individual is the end of man. From this principle it will follow that the form of 
government which communicates ease, comfort, security, or, in one word, happiness, to 
the greatest numbers of persons, and in the greatest degree, is the best. 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 



We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions 
unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break 
the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution 
was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the 
government of any other. 
John Adams, Address to the Military, October 11, 1798 

We ought to consider what is the end of government before we determine which is the 
best form. Upon this point all speculative politicians will agree that the happiness of 
society is the end of government, as all divines and moral philosophers will agree that the 
happiness of the individual is the end of man.... All sober inquirers after truth, ancient and 
modern, pagan and Christian, have declared that the happiness of man, as well as his 
dignity, consists in virtue. 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 

We should be unfaithful to ourselves if we should ever lose sight of the danger to our 
liberties if anything partial or extraneous should infect the purity of our free, fair, 
virtuous, and independent elections. 
John Adams, Inaugural Address, March 4, 1797 

Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the 
people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties, and as these 
depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of 
the country, and among the different orders of people, it shall be the duty of legislators 
and magistrates... to cherish the interest of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries 
of them. 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 

Without wishing to damp the ardor of curiosity or influence the freedom of inquiry, I will 

hazard a prediction that, after the most industrious and impartial researchers, the longest 

liver of you all will find no principles, institutions or systems of education more fit in 

general to be transmitted to your posterity than those you have received from your 

ancestors. 

John Adams, letter to the young men of the Philadelphia, May 7, 1798 

Democracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do 
what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be 
secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all 
the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and 
science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a 
very few. 
John Adams, An Essay on Man 's Lust for Power, August 29, 1 763 



Judges, therefore, should be always men of learning and experience in the laws, of 
exemplary morals, great patience, calmness, coolness, and attention. Their minds should 
not be distracted with jarring interests; they should not be dependent upon any man, or 
body of men. 
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776 



2009 B.A. Brooks All Rights Reserved 




Benjamin Franklin 



A dying man can do nothing easy. 

Benjamin Franklin, after his daughter asked him to move, April 17, 1790 

A fine genius in his own country is like gold in the mine. 
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac, 1733 

A penny saved is two pence clear. 

Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac, 1737 

A Spoonful of Honey will catch more Flies than a Gallon of Vinegar. 
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac, 1748 

All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of 
superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy 
opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national 
felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no 
longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more 
convincing proofs I see of this truth-that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a 
sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without his Notice, is it probable that an Empire can 
rise without his Aid?" 
Benjamin Franklin, To Colleagues at the Constitutional Convention 



All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the 
Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of 
But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Public, who, by their 
Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the 
Welfare of the Public shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society 
on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the 
benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it. 
Benjamin Franklin, letter to Robert Morris, December 25, 1783 

And as to the Cares, they are chiefly what attend the bringing up of Children; and I would 
ask any Man who has experienced it, if they are not the most delightful Cares in the 
World; and if from that Particular alone, he does not find the Bliss of a double State much 
greater, instead of being less than he expected. 
Benjamin Franklin, Reply to a Piece of Advice, March 4, 1734/5 

Be in general virtuous, and you will be happy. 

Benjamin Franklin, letter to John Alleyne, August 9, 1768 

But they have two other Rights; those of sitting when they please, and as long as they 
please, in which methinks they have the advantage of your Parliament; for they cannot be 
dissolved by the Breath of a Minister, or sent packing as you were the other day, when it 
was your earnest desire to have remained longer together. 
Benjamin Franklin, letter to William Straham, August 19, 1784 

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. 
Benjamin Franklin, Advice to a Young Tradesman, 1748 

Finally, there seem to be but three Ways for a Nation to acquire Wealth. The first is by 
War as the Romans did in plundering their conquered Neighbors. This is Robbery. The 
second by Commerce which is generally Cheating. The third by Agriculture the only 
honest Way; wherein Man receives a real Increase of the Seed thrown into the Ground, in 
a kind of continual Miracle wrought by the Hand of God in his favor, as a Reward for his 
innocent Life, and virtuous Industry. 
Benjamin Franklin, Positions to be Examined, April 4, 1769 

Have you something to do to-morrow; do it to-day. 
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac, 1742 

Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is. 
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richards Almanac, 1749 

He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing. 
Benjamin Franklin, from his writings, 1758 



Here comes the orator! With his flood of words, and his drop of reason. 
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac, 1735 

History affords us many instances of the ruin of states, by the prosecution of measures ill 
suited to the temper and genius of their people. The ordaining of laws in favor of one part 
of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly 
Benjamin Franklin 

History affords us many instances of the ruin of states, by the prosecution of measures ill 
suited to the temper and genius of their people. The ordaining of laws in favor of one part 
of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous 
and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and 
advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy... These measures never 
fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosities between the people favored and 
the people oppressed; whence a total separation of affections, interests, political 
obligations, and all manner of connections, by which the whole state is weakened. 
Benjamin Franklin, Emblematical Representations, Circa 1774 

History will also give Occasion to expatiate on the Advantage of Civil Orders and 
Constitutions, how Men and their Properties are protected by joining in Societies and 
establishing Government; their Industry encouraged and rewarded. Arts invented, and 
Life made more comfortable: The Advantages of Liberty, Mischief's of Licentiousness, 
Benefits arising from good Laws and a due Execution of Justice, etc. Thus may the first 
Principles of sound Politicks be fixed in the Minds of Youth. 
Benjamin Franklin, Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania, 1749 

How many observe Christ's birth-day! How few, his precepts! O! 'tis easier to keep 

Holidays than Commandments. 

Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac, 1743 

Human Felicity is produced not so much by great Pieces of good Fortune that seldom 
happen, as by little Advantages that occur every Day. 
Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, 1771 

I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way 
of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving 
them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the 
more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, 
and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more 
they did for themselves, and became richer. 
Benjamin Franklin, On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, November 1766 

I pronounce it as certain that there was never yet a truly great man that was not at the 

same time truly virtuous. 

Benjamin Franklin, The Busy-body, No. 3, February 18, 1728 



If by the liberty of the press were understood merely the liberty of discussing the 
propriety of public measures and political opinions, let us have as much of it as you 
please: But if it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating and defaming one another, I, 
for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it, whenever our legislators shall 
please so to alter the law and shall cheerfully consent to exchange my liberty of abusing 
others for the privilege of not being abused myself 
Benjamin Franklin, The Court of the Press, September 12, 1789 

In reality there is perhaps no one of our natural Passions so hard to subdue as Pride. 
Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is 
still alive, and will now and then peek out and show itself 
Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, 1771 

It is very imprudent to deprive America of any of her privileges. If her commerce and 
friendship are of any importance to you, they are to be had on no other terms than leaving 
her in the full enjoyment of her rights. 
Benjamin Franklin, Political Observations 

Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards. 
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac, 1738 

No nation was ever ruined by trade, even seemingly the most disadvantageous. 
Benjamin Franklin and George Whaley, Principles of Trade, 1774 

Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises 
permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. 
Benjamin Franklin, letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, November 13, 1789 

Remember, that Time is Money. 

Benjamin Franklin, Advice to a Young Tradesman, 1748 

Repeal that [welfare] law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. St. Monday 
and St. Tuesday, will soon cease to be holidays. Six days shalt thou labor, though one of 
the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a 
respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; 
their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them 
to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them. 
Benjamin Franklin May 9, 1 753 

Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature, that its very extirpation, if not 
performed with solicitous care, may sometimes open a source of serious evils. 
Benjamin Franklin, An Address to the Public, November 1789 



Strangers are welcome because there is room enough for them all, and therefore the old 
Inhabitants are not jealous of them; the Laws protect them sufficiently so that they have 
no need of the Patronage of great Men; and every one will enjoy securely the Profits of 
his Industry. But if he does not bring a Fortune with him, he must work and be 
industrious to live. 
Benjamin Franklin, Those Who Would Remove to America, February, 1784 

Strive to be the greatest man in your country, and you may be disappointed. Strive to be 
the best and you may succeed: he may well win the race that runs by himself 
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac, 1747 

That wise Men have in all Ages thought Government necessary for the Good of Mankind; 
and, that wise Governments have always thought Religion necessary for the well ordering 
and well-being of Society, and accordingly have been ever careful to encourage and 
protect the Ministers of it, paying them the highest public Honors, that their Doctrines 
might thereby meet with the greater Respect among the common People. 
Benjamin Franklin, On that Odd Letter of the Drum, April 1730 

The good Education of Youth has been esteemed by wise Men in all Ages, as the surest 
Foundation of the Happiness both of private Families and of Common-wealths. Almost 
all Governments have therefore made it a principal Object of their Attention, to establish 
and endow with proper Revenues, such Seminaries of Learning, as might supply the 
succeeding Age with Men qualified to serve the Public with Honor to themselves, and to 
their Country. 
Benjamin Franklin, Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania, 1749 

The happy State of Matrimony is, undoubtedly, the surest and most lasting Foundation of 
Comfort and Love; the Source of all that endearing Tenderness and Affection which 
arises from Relation and Affinity; the grand Point of Property; the Cause of all good 
Order in the World, and what alone preserves it from the utmost Confusion; and, to sum 
up all, the Appointment of infinite Wisdom for these great and good Purposes. 
Benjamin Franklin, Rules and Maxims for Promoting Matrimonial Happiness, October 8, 
1730 

The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression 
of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of 
protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought 
to enjoy. 
Benjamin Franklin, Emblematical Representations, Circa 1774 

They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve 

neither liberty nor safety. 

Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759 



They are of the People, and return again to mix with the People, having no more durable 
preeminence than the different Grains of Sand in an Hourglass. Such an Assembly cannot 
easily become dangerous to Liberty. They are the Servants of the People, sent together to 
do the People's Business, and promote the public Welfare; their Powers must be 
sufficient, or their Duties cannot be performed. They have no profitable Appointments, 
but a mere Payment of daily Wages, such as are scarcely equivalent to their Expenses so 
that, having no Chance for great Places, and enormous Salaries or Pensions, as in some 
Countries, there is no triguing or bribing for Elections. 
Benjamin Franklin, letter to George Whatley, May 23, 1785 

This gave me occasion to observe, that when Men are employed they are best contented. 
For on the Days they worked they were good-natured and cheerful; and with the 
consciousness of having done a good Days work they spent the Evenings jollily; but on 
the idle Days they were mutinous and quarrelsome, finding fault with their Pork, the 
Bread, etc. and in continual ill-humor. 
Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography, 1771 

To the haranguers of the populace among the ancients, succeed among the moderns your 
writers of political pamphlets and news-papers, and your coffee-house talkers. 
Benjamin Franklin, Reply to Coffee House Orators, April 9, 1767 

We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately. 

Benjamin Franklin (attributed), at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 

1776 

Where liberty dwells, there is my country. 

Benjamin Franklin (attributed), letter to Benjamin Vaughn, March 14, 1783 

Wish not so much to live long as to live well. 
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac, 1746 

Without Freedom of Thought there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing 

as Public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech. 

Benjamin Franklin, writing as Silence Do good. No. 8, July 9, 1722 

Work as if you were to live 100 Years, Pray as if you were to die To-morrow. 
Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac, 1757 

Every Man who comes among us, and takes up a piece of Land, becomes a Citizen, and 

by our Constitution has a Voice in Elections, and a share in the Government of the 

Country. 

Benjamin Franklin, letter to William Straham, August 19, 1784 



It is a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we 
are fighting for their liberty in defending our own. 
Benjamin Franklin, letter to Samuel Cooper, May 1, 1777 



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Alexander Hamilton 



A feeble executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is 
but another phrase for a bad execution; and a government ill executed, whatever may be 
its theory, must be, in practice, a bad government. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 70, 1788 

A fondness for power is implanted, in most men, and it is natural to abuse it, when 

acquired. 

Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, February 23, 1775 

A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishment 
of the objects committed to its care, and to the complete execution of the trusts for which 
it is responsible, free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the 
sense of the people. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 31, January 1, 1788 



And it proves, in the last place, that liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary 

alone, but would have everything to fear from its union with either of the other 

departments. 

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 78, 1788 



As on the one hand, the necessity for borrowing in particular emergencies cannot be 
doubted, so on the other, it is equally evident that to be able to borrow upon good terms, 
it is essential that the credit of a nation should be well established. 
Alexander Hamilton, Report on Public Credit, January 9, 1790 

As riches increase and accumulate in few hands, as luxury prevails in society, virtue will 

be in a greater degree considered as only a graceful appendage of wealth, and the 

tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard. This is the real 

disposition of human nature; it is what neither the honorable member nor myself can 

correct. It is a common misfortunate that awaits our State constitution, as well as all 

others. 

Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June, 1788 

As to Taxes, they are evidently inseparable from Government. It is impossible without 
them to pay the debts of the nation, to protect it from foreign danger, or to secure 
individuals from lawless violence and rapine. 
Alexander Hamilton, Address to the Electors of the State of New York, March, 1801 

But as the plan of the convention aims only at a partial union or consolidation, the State 
governments would clearly retain all the rights of sovereignty which they before had, and 
which were not, by that act, EXCLUSIVELY delegated to the United States. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 32, January 3, 1788 

Constitutions of civil government are not to be framed upon a calculation of existing 
exigencies, but upon a combination of these with the probable exigencies of ages, 
according to the natural and tried course of human affairs. Nothing, therefore, can be 
more fallacious than to infer the extent of any power, proper to be lodged in the national 
government, from an estimate of its immediate necessities. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 34, January 4, 1788 

Energy in the executive is a leading character in the definition of good government. It is 
essential to the protection of the community against foreign attacks; it is not less essential 
to the steady administration of the laws; to the protection of property against those 
irregular and high-handed combinations which sometimes interrupt the ordinary course of 
justice; to the security of liberty against the enterprises and assaults of ambition, of 
faction, and of anarchy. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 69, March 14, 1788 

Experience is the oracle of truth; and where its responses are unequivocal, they ought to 

be conclusive and sacred. 

Alexander Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 20, December 11, 1787 

Foreign influence is truly the Grecian horse to a republic. We cannot be too careful to 

exclude its influence. 

Alexander Hamilton, Pacificus, No. 6, July 17, 1793 



Good constitutions are formed upon a comparison of the liberty of the individual with the 
strength of government: If the tone of either be too high, the other will be weakened too 
much. It is the happiest possible mode of conciliating these objects, to institute one 
branch peculiarly endowed with sensibility, another with knowledge and firmness. 
Through the opposition and mutual control of these bodies, the government will reach, in 
its regular operations, the perfect balance between liberty and power. 
Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June 25, 1788 

Government implies the power of making laws. It is essential to the idea of a law, that it 
be attended with a sanction; or, in other words, a penalty or punishment for disobedience. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15, 1787 

Here sir, the people govern. 

Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June 17, 1788 

I am persuaded that a firm union is as necessary to perpetuate our liberties as it is to make 
us respectable; and experience will probably prove that the National Government will be 
as natural a guardian of our freedom as the State Legislatures. 
Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June, 1788 

I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are 
contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be 
dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and on this 
very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why 
declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 84, 1788 

I never expect to see a perfect work from imperfect man. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 85, 1788 

I trust that the proposed Constitution afford a genuine specimen of representative 
government and republican government; and that it will answer, in an eminent degree, all 
the beneficial purposes of society. 
Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June, 1788 

I will venture to assert that no combination of designing men under heaven will be 
capable of making a government unpopular which is in its principles a wise and good 
one, and vigorous in its operations. 
Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June, 1788 

In politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and 
sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1, October 27, 1787 



If a well-regulated militia be the most natural defense of a free country, it ought certainly 
to be under the regulation and at the disposal of that body which is constituted the 
guardian of the national security. If standing armies are dangerous to liberty, an 
efficacious power over the militia in the same body ought, as far as possible, to take away 
the inducement and the pretext to such unfriendly institutions. If the federal government 
can command the aid of the militia in those emergencies which call for the military arm 
in support of the civil magistrate, it can the better dispense with the employment of a 
different kind of force. If it cannot avail itself of the former, it will be obliged to recur to 
the latter. To render an army unnecessary will be a more certain method of preventing its 
existence than a thousand prohibitions upon paper. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 29, January 10, 1788 

If duties are too high, they lessen the consumption; the collection is eluded; and the 

product to the treasury is not so great as when they are confined within proper and 

moderate bounds. This forms a complete barrier against any material oppression of the 

citizens by taxes of this class, and is itself a natural limitation of the power of imposing 

them. 

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 21, 1787 

If it be asked. What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a 
Republic? The answer would be. An inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws — 
the first growing out of the last.... A sacred respect for the constitutional law is the vital 
principle, the sustaining energy of a free government. 
Alexander Hamilton, Essay in the American Daily Advertiser, Aug 28, 1794 

If mankind were to resolve to agree in no institution of government, until every part of it 
had been adjusted to the most exact standard of perfection, society would soon become a 
general scene of anarchy, and the world a desert. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 65, March 7, 1788 

If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a 
tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard 
they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as 
the exigency may suggest and prudence justify. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 33, January 3, 1788 

In all very numerous assemblies, of whatever character composed, passion never fails to 
wrest the scepter from reason. ... Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every 
Athenian assembly would still have been a mob. 
Alexander Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 55, February 15, 1788 

In disquisitions of every kind there are certain primary truths, or first principles, upon 
which all subsequent reasoning must depend. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 31, January 1, 1788 



In the first place, there is not a syllable in the plan under consideration which directly 
empowers the national courts to construe the laws according to the spirit of the 
Constitution, or which gives them any greater latitude in this respect than may be claimed 
by the courts of every State. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 81, 1788 

It is a just observation that the people commonly intend the Public Good. This often 
applies to their very errors. But their good sense would despise the adulator who should 
pretend they always reason right about the means of promoting it. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 71, March 18, 1788 

It is a singular advantage of taxes on articles of consumption that they contain in their 
own nature a security against excess. They prescribe their own limit, which cannot be 
exceeded without defeating the end purposed — that is, an extension of the revenue. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 21 

It is an unquestionable truth, that the body of the people in every country desire sincerely 
its prosperity. But it is equally unquestionable that they do not possess the discernment 
and stability necessary for systematic government. To deny that they are frequently led 
into the grossest of errors, by misinformation and passion, would be a flattery which their 
own good sense must despise. 
Alexander Hamilton, speech to the Ratifying Convention of New York, June, 1788 

It is evident from the state of the country, from the habits of the people, from the 
experience we have had on the point itself, that it is impracticable to raise any very 
considerable sums by direct taxation. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 12, November 27, 1787 

It is one thing to be subordinate to the laws, and another [for the Executive] to be 
dependent on the legislative body. The first comports with, the last violates, the 
fundamental principles of good government; and, whatever may be the forms of the 
Constitution, unites all power in the same hands. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 71, March 18, 1788 

It seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and 
example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or 
not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are 
forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there 
be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be 
regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part 
we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of 
mankind. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1, October 27, 1787 

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It was remarked yesterday that a numerous representation was necessary to obtain the 
confidence of the people. This is not generally true. The confidence of the people will 
easily be gained by a good administration. This is the true touchstone. 
Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June, 1788 

It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, 
if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be 
understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such 
incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will 
be to-morrow. 
Alexander Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 62, 1788 

Industry is increased, commodities are multiplied, agriculture and manufacturers flourish: 
and herein consists the true wealth and prosperity of a state. 
Alexander Hamilton, Report on a National Bank, December 13, 1790 

It will not be too strong to say, that there will be a constant probability of seeing the 
station [of President] filled by characters pre-eminent for ability and virtue. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 68, March 14, 1788 

Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, 

and less fixed? 

Alexander Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 62, 1788 

Let the thirteen States, bound together in a strict and indissoluble Union, concur in 

erecting one great American system, superior to the control of all transatlantic force or 

influence, and able to dictate the terms of the connection between the old and the new 

world! 

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 11, 1787 

Let us recollect that peace or war will not always be left to our option; that however 
moderate or un-ambitious we may be, we cannot count upon the moderation, or hope to 
extinguish the ambition of others. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 34, January 4, 1788 

Measures which serve to abridge the free competition of foreign Articles, have a tendency 

to occasion an enhancement of prices. 

Alexander Hamilton, Report on Manufactures, December 5, 1791 

No government, any more than an individual, will long be respected without being truly 

respectable; nor be truly respectable, without possessing a certain portion of order and 

stability. 

Alexander Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 62, 1788 

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No man in his senses can hesitate in choosing to be free, rather than a slave. 

Alexander Hamilton, A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress, etc., December 

15, 1774 

Of all the cares or concerns of government, the direction of war most peculiarly demands 
those qualities which distinguish the exercise of power by a single hand. The direction of 
war implies the direction of the common strength; and the power of directing and 
employing the common strength, forms a usual and essential part in the definition of the 
executive authority. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 74, March 25, 1788 

Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have 
begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues 
and ending tyrants. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1, October 27. 1787 



Responsibility, in order to be reasonable, must be limited to objects within the power of 
the responsible party, and in order to be effectual, must relate to operations of that power, 
of which a ready and proper judgment can be formed by the constituents. 
Alexander Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 63, 1788 

States, like individuals, who observe their engagements, are respected and trusted: while 
the reverse is the fate of those who pursue an opposite conduct. 
Alexander Hamilton, Report on Public Credit, January 9, 1790 

The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men 
who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the 
society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them 
virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust. 
Alexander Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788 

The circumstances that endanger the safety of nations are infinite, and for this reason no 

constitutional shackles can wisely be imposed on the power to which the care of it is 

committed. 

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 23, December 17, 1787 

The citizens of America have too much discernment to be argued into anarchy, and I am 

much mistaken if experience has not wrought a deep and solemn conviction in the public 

mind that greater energy of government is essential to the welfare and prosperity of the 

community. 

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 26 

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The fabric of American empire ought to rest on the solid basis of THE CONSENT OF 
THE PEOPLE. The streams of national power ought to flow from that pure, original 
fountain of all legitimate authority. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 22, December 14, 1787 

The fundamental source of all your errors, sophisms and false reasoning is a total 
ignorance of the natural rights of mankind. Were you once to become acquainted with 
these, you could never entertain a thought, that all men are not, by nature, entitled to a 
parity of privileges. You would be convinced, that natural liberty is a gift of the 
beneficent Creator to the whole human race, and that civil liberty is founded in that; and 
cannot be wrested from any people, without the most manifest violation of justice. 
Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, February 23, 1775 

The great desiderata are a free representation and mutual checks. When these are 
obtained, all our apprehensions of the extent of powers are unjust and imaginary. 
Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June, 1788 

The great leading objects of the federal government, in which revenue is concerned, are to 
maintain domestic peace, and provide for the common defense. In these are 
comprehended the regulation of commerce that is, the whole system of foreign 
intercourse; the support of armies and navies, and of the civil administration. 
Alexander Hamilton, Remarks in the New York Ratifying Convention, June, 1788 

The history of ancient and modern republics had taught them that many of the evils which 
those republics suffered arose from the want of a certain balance, and that mutual control 
indispensable to a wise administration. They were convinced that popular assemblies are 
frequently misguided by ignorance, by sudden impulses, and the intrigues of ambitious 
men; and that some firm barrier against these operations was necessary. They, therefore, 
instituted your Senate. 
Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June, 1788 

The idea of restraining the legislative authority in the means of providing for the national 
defense is one of those refinements which owe their origin to a zeal for liberty more 
ardent than enlightened. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 26 

The ingredients which constitute energy in the Executive are, first, unity; secondly, 
duration; thirdly, an adequate provision for its support; fourthly, competent powers. ... 
The ingredients which constitute safety in the republican sense are, first, a due 
dependence on the people, secondly, a due responsibility. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 70, March 14, 1788 

The injury which may possibly be done by defeating a few good laws, will be amply 
compensated by the advantage of preventing a number of bad ones. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 73. on the Veto Power, March 21. 1788 



The instrument by which it [government] must act are either the AUTHORITY of the 
laws or FORCE. If the first be destroyed, the last must be substituted; and where this 
becomes the ordinary instrument of government there is an end to liberty! 
Alexander Hamilton, Tully, No. 3, August 28, 1794 

The Judiciary... has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of 
the strength or of the wealth of the society, and can take no active resolution whatever. It 
may truly be said to have neither force nor will. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 78, 1788 

The local interest of a State ought in every case to give way to the interests of the Union. 
For when a sacrifice of one or the other is necessary, the former becomes only an 
apparent, partial interest, and should yield, on the principle that the smaller good ought 
never to oppose the greater good. 
Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June, 1788 

The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a 

change of men. 

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 21, 1787 

The proposed Constitution, so far from implying an abolition of the State governments, 
makes them constituent parts of the national sovereignty, by allowing them a direct 
representation in the Senate, and leaves in their possession certain exclusive and very 
important portions of sovereign power. This fully corresponds, in every rational import of 
the terms, with the idea of a federal government. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 9, 1787 

The propriety of a law, in a constitutional light, must always be determined by the nature 

of the powers upon which it is founded. 

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 33, January 3, 1788 

The prosperity of commerce is now perceived and acknowledged by all enlightened 
statesmen to be the most useful as well as the most productive source of national wealth, 
and has accordingly become a primary object of its political cares. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 12, November 27, 1787 

The regular distribution of power into distinct departments; the introduction of legislative 
balances and checks; the institution of courts composed of judges holding their offices 
during good behavior; the representation of the people in the legislature by deputies of 
their own election... They are means, and powerful means, by which the excellences of 
republican government may be retained and its imperfections lessened or avoided. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 9, 1787 



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The republican principle demands that the deliberate sense of the community should 
govern the conduct of those to whom they entrust the management of their affairs; but it 
does not require an unqualified complaisance to every sudden breeze of passion or to 
every transient impulse which the people may receive from the arts of men, who flatter 
their prejudices to betray their interests. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 71, March 18, 1788 

The rights of neutrality will only be respected when they are defended by an adequate 
power. A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 11, 1787 

The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or 

musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human 

nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal 

power. 

Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, February 23, 1775 

The State governments possess inherent advantages, which will ever give them an 
influence and ascendancy over the National Government, and will for ever preclude the 
possibility of federal encroachments. That their liberties, indeed, can be subverted by the 
federal head, is repugnant to every rule of political calculation. 
Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June 17, 1788 

The tendency of a national bank is to increase public and private credit. The former gives 
power to the state, for the protection of its rights and interests: and the latter facilitates 
and extends the operations of commerce among individuals. Industry is increased, 
commodities are multiplied, agriculture and manufacturers flourish: and herein consists 
the true wealth and prosperity of a state. 
Alexander Hamilton, Report on Manufactures, 1790 

The true principle of government is this — make the system complete in its structure; 
give a perfect proportion and balance to its parts; and the powers you give it will never 
affect your security. 
Alexander Hamilton, Remarks in the New York Ratifying Convention, June, 1788 

The truth is, after all the declamations we have heard, that the Constitution is itself, in 
every rational sense, and to every useful purpose, A BILL OF RIGHTS. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 84, 1788 

There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts 

of bravery and heroism. 

Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, February 23, 1775 

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There are certain social principles in human nature, from which we may draw the most 
solid conclusions with respect to the conduct of individuals and of communities. We love 
our families more than our neighbors; we love our neighbors more than our countrymen 
in general. The human affections, like solar heat, lose their intensity as they depart from 
the center... On these principles, the attachment of the individual will be first and for ever 
secured by the State governments. They will be a mutual protection and support. 
Alexander Hamilton, speech at the New York Ratifying Convention, June, 1788 

There is no part of the administration of government that requires extensive information 
and a thorough knowledge of the principles of political economy, so much as the business 
of taxation. The man who understands those principles best will be least likely to resort to 
oppressive expedients, or sacrifice any particular class of citizens to the procurement of 
revenue. It might be demonstrated that the most productive system of finance will always 
be the least burdensome. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 35, 1788 

There is nothing absurd or impracticable in the idea of a league or alliance between 
independent nations for certain defined purposes precisely stated in a treaty regulating all 
the details of time, place, circumstance, and quantity; leaving nothing to future discretion; 
and depending for its execution on the good faith of the parties. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15, 1787 

There is something so far-fetched and so extravagant in the idea of danger to liberty from 
the militia that one is at a loss whether to treat it with gravity or with raillery; whether to 
consider it as a mere trial of skill, like the paradoxes of rhetoricians; as a disingenuous 
artifice to instill prejudices at any price; or as the serious. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 29, January 10, 1788 

This balance between the National and State governments ought to be dwelt on with 
peculiar attention, as it is of the utmost importance. It forms a double security to the 
people. If one encroaches on their rights they will find a powerful protection in the other. 
Indeed, they will both be prevented from over passing their constitutional limits by a 
certain rivalship, which will ever subsist between them. 
Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June 17, 1788 

To cherish and stimulate the activity of the human mind, by multiplying the objects of 
enterprise, is not among the least considerable of the expedients, by which the wealth of a 
nation may be promoted. 
Alexander Hamilton, Report on Manufactures, December 1791 

Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us 
faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be, that there is not 
sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of 
despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another. 
Alexander Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 55, February 15, 1788 



To grant that there is a supreme intelligence who rules the world and has established laws 
to regulate the actions of his creatures; and still to assert that man, in a state of nature, 
may be considered as perfectly free from all restraints of law and government, appears to 
a common understanding altogether irreconcilable. Good and wise men, in all ages, have 
embraced a very dissimilar theory. They have supposed that the deity, from the relations 
we stand in to himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, 
which is indispensably obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution 
whatever. This is what is called the law of nature.... Upon this law depend the natural 
rights of mankind. 
Alexander Hamilton, The Farmer Refuted, February 23, 1775 

To judge from the history of mankind, we shall be compelled to conclude that the fiery 
and destructive passions of war reign in the human breast with much more powerful sway 
than the mild and beneficent sentiments of peace; and that to model our political systems 
upon speculations of lasting tranquility would be to calculate on the weaker springs of 
human character. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 34, January 4, 1788 

To model our political system upon speculations of lasting tranquility, is to calculate on 

the weaker springs of the human character. 

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 34, January 4, 1788 

War, like most other things, is a science to be acquired and perfected by diligence, by 

perseverance, by time, and by practice. 

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 25, December 21, 1787 

When occasions present themselves, in which the interests of the people are at variance 
with their inclinations, it is the duty of the persons whom they have appointed to be the 
guardians of those interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them 
time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 71 

When you assemble from your several counties in the Legislature, were every member to 
be guided only by the apparent interest of his county, government would be 
impracticable. There must be a perpetual accommodation and sacrifice of local advantage 
to general expediency. 
Alexander Hamilton, speech at the New York Ratifying Convention, June, 1788 

Wherever indeed a right of property is infringed for the general good, if the nature of the 
case admits of compensation, it ought to be made; but if compensation be impracticable, 
that impracticability ought to be an obstacle to a clearly essential reform. 
Alexander Hamilton, Vindication of the Funding System, 1792 

However weak our country may be, I hope we shall never sacrifice our liberties. 
Alexander Hamilton 



While the constitution continues to be read, and its principles known, the states, must, by 
every rational man, be considered as essential component parts of the union; and therefore 
the idea of sacrificing the former to the latter is totally inadmissible. 
Alexander Hamilton, speech to the New York Ratifying Convention, June 24, 1788 

Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power must perceive, that, in 
a government in which they are separated from each other, the judiciary, from the nature 
of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the 
Constitution; because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or injure them. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 78, 1788 

Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform 
to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 15 

Wise politicians will be cautious about fettering the government with restrictions that 
cannot be observed, because they know that every break of the fundamental laws, though 
dictated by necessity, impairs that sacred reverence which out to be maintained in the 
breast of rulers towards the constitution of a country. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 25, December 21, 1787 

However weak our country may be, I hope we shall never sacrifice our liberties. 
Alexander Hamilton, Report on a National Bank, December 13, 1790 

The Judicial Branch may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely 
judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the 
efficacy of its judgments. 
Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 78, 1788 

The Constitution ought to be the standard of construction for the laws, and that wherever 
there is an evident opposition, the laws ought to give place to the Constitution. But this 
doctrine is not deducible from any circumstance peculiar to the plan of convention, but 
from the general theory of a limited Constitution. 
Alexander Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 81, 1788 

This process of election affords a moral certainty that the office of President will seldom 

fall to the lot of any many who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite 

qualifications. 

Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 68, March 14, 1788 

The present Constitution is the standard to which we are to cling. Under its banners, bona 
fide must we combat our political foes — rejecting all changes but through the channel 
itself provides for amendments. 
Alexander Hamilton, letter to James Bayard, April, 1802 

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Thomas Jefferson 



A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of 

their chief magistrate. 

Thomas Jefferson, Rights of British America, 1774 

A judiciary independent of a king or executive alone, is a good thing; but independence of 
the will of the nation is a solecism, at least in a republican government. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Ritchie, December 25, 1820 

A morsel of genuine history is a thing so rare as to be always valuable. 
Thomas Jefferson, September 8, 1817 

A rigid economy of the public contributions and absolute interdiction of all useless 
expenses will go far towards keeping the government honest and unoppressive. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Lafayette, 1823 

A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. 
While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and 
independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too 
violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your 
constant companion of your walks. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 19, 1785 

All the States but our own are sensible that knowledge is power. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph C. Cabell, January 22, 1820 



All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of 
science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind 
has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, 
ready to ride legitimately, by the grace of God. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826 

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in 
all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess 
their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. 
Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 

Although a republican government is slow to move, yet when once in motion, its 

momentum becomes irresistible. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis C. Gray, 1815 

Although in the circle of his friends, where he might be unreserved with safety, he took a 
free share in conversation his colloquial talents were not above mediocrity, possessing 
neither copiousness of ideas, nor fluency of words. In public, when called on for a sudden 
opinion, he was unready, short and embarrassed. 
Thomas Jefferson, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones, January 2, 1814 

An honest man can feel no pleasure in the exercise of power over his fellow 
citizens.... There has never been a moment of my life in which I should have relinquished 
for it the enjoyments of my family, my farm, my friends & books. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Melish, January 13, 1813 

And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm 
basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That 
they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I 
reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever. 
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 18, 1781 

At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the 
most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon 
showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of 
the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; 
that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded 
by the public at large; that these decisions, nevertheless, become law by precedent, 
sapping, by little and little, the foundations of the constitution, and working its change by 
construction, before any one has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm has been 
busily employed in consuming its substance. In truth, man is not made to be trusted for 
life, if secured against all liability to account. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Monsieur A. Coray, Oct 31, 1823 

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Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, 
that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers 
of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign 
reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature 
should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free 
exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to a Committee of the Danbury Baptist Association, Connecticut, 
January 1, 1802 

Born in other countries, yet believing you could be happy in this, our laws acknowledge, 
as they should do, your right to join us in society, conforming, as I doubt not you will do, 
to our established rules. That these rules shall be as equal as prudential considerations 
will admit, will certainly be the aim of our legislatures, general and particular. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Hugh White, May 2, 1801 

But of all the views of this law none is more important, none more legitimate, than that of 
rendering the people the safe, as they are the ultimate, guardians of their own liberty. For 
this purpose the reading in the first stage, where they will receive their whole education, 
is proposed, as has been said, to be chiefly historical. History by apprising them of the 
past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other 
times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; 
it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, 
to defeat its views. 
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14, 1781 

But with respect to future debt; would it not be wise and just for that nation to declare in 
the constitution they are forming that neither the legislature, nor the nation itself can 
validly contract more debt, than they may pay within their own age, or within the term of 
19 years. 
Thomas Jefferson, September 6, 1789 

Cherish, therefore, the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too 
severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become 
inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, Judges, and 
Governors, shall all become wolves. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Carrington, January 16, 1787 

Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares 

fit tools for the designs of ambition. 

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 19, 1787 

Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will 

vanish like spirits at the dawn of day. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dupont de Nemours, April 24, 1816 



Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of 

time, who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done, if we are always 

doing. And that you may be always doing good, my dear, is the ardent prayer of yours 

affectionately. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Martha Jefferson, May 5, 1787 

During the contest of opinion through which we have passed the animation of discussions 
and of exertions has sometimes worn an aspect which might impose on strangers unused 
to think freely and to speak and to write what they think; but this being now deci 
Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 

During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has 
been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. 
These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be 
regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety. 
Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address, December 9, 1805 

Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever persuasion, religious or political. 
Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 

Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different 

names brethren of the same principle. 

Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people 

themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. 

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14, 1781 

Excessive taxation will carry reason & reflection to every man's door, and particularly in 

the hour of election. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, November 26, 1798 

Excessive taxation. . . will carry reason and reflection to every man's door, and particularly 

in the hour of election. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, 1 798 

Experience having long taught me the reasonableness of mutual sacrifices of opinion 
among those who are to act together for any common object, and the expediency of doing 
what good we can; when we cannot do all we would wish. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Randolph, December 1, 1803 

He who is permitted by law to have no property of his own, can with difficulty conceive 
that property is founded in anything but force. 
Thomas Jefferson, January 26, 1788 



For example. If the system be established on basis of Income, and his just proportion on 
that scale has been already drawn from every one, to step into the field of Consumption, 
and tax special articles in that, as broadcloth or homespun, wine or whiskey, a coach or a 
wagon, is doubly taxing the same article. For that portion of Income with which these 
articles are purchased, having already paid its tax as Income, to pay another tax on the 
thing it purchased, is paying twice for the same thing; it is an aggrievance on the citizens 
who use these articles in exoneration of those who do not, contrary to the most sacred of 
the duties of a government, to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816 

Give up money, give up fame, give up science, give the earth itself and all it contains 
rather than do an immoral act. And never suppose that in any possible situation, or under 
any circumstances, it is best for you to do a dishonorable thing, however slightly so it may 
appear to you... From the practice of the purest virtue, you may be assured you will derive 
the most sublime comforts in every moment of life, and in the moment of death. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 19, 1785 

For I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are 

virtue and talents. 

Thomas Jefferson, October 28, 1813 

Hamilton was indeed a singular character. Of acute understanding, disinterested, honest, 
and honorable in all private transactions, amiable in society, and duly valuing virtue in 
private life, yet so bewitched & perverted by the British example, as to be under thoro' 
conviction that corruption was essential to the government of a nation. 
Thomas Jefferson, on Alexander Hamilton in The Anas, 1791-1806 

He [King George] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most 

sacred right of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, 

captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable 

death in their transportation thither. 

Thomas Jefferson, deleted portion of a draft of the Declaration of Independence, June, 

1776 

His integrity was most pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known, no motives 
of interest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias his decision. He 
was indeed, in every sense of the words, a wise, a good, and a great man. 
Thomas Jefferson, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones, January 2, 1814 

His mind was great and powerful, without being of the very first order; his penetration 
strong, though not so acute as that of Newton, Bacon, or Locke; and as far as he saw, no 
judgment was ever sounder 
Thomas Jefferson, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones, January 2, 1814 

© 2009 B.A. Brooks All Rights Reserved 



His person, you know, was fine, his stature exactly what one would wish, his deportment 

easy, erect and noble. 

Thomas Jefferson, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones, January 2, 1814 

His temper was excellent, and he generally observed decorum in debate. On one or two 
occasions I have seen him angry, and his anger was terrible; those who witnessed it, were 
not disposed to rouse it again. 
Thomas Jefferson, on Patrick Henry, December, 1824 

History by apprising citizens of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will 
avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as 
judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under 
every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views. 
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14, 1781 

Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we 

received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to 

receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding 

generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them if we basely entail 

hereditary bondage on them. 

Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking up Arms, July 6, 

1775 

I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that 'all powers not 

delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are 

reserved to the states or to the people.' To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus 

specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field 

of power, not longer susceptible of any definition. 

Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, February 15, 

1791 

I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from 
intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This 
results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment 
or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the States the powers not 
delegated to the United States. Certainly, no power to prescribe any religious exercise or 
to assume authority in any religious discipline has been delegated to the General 
Government. It must then rest with the States. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Miller, January 23, 1808 

I had always hoped that the younger generation receiving their early impressions after the 
flame of liberty had been kindled in every breast... would have sympathized with 
oppression wherever found, and proved their love of liberty beyond their own share of it. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Coles, August 25, 1814 



I have been happy... in believing that... whatever follies we may be led into as to foreign 
nations, we shall never give up our Union, the last anchor of our hope, and that alone 
which is to prevent this heavenly country from becoming an arena of gladiators. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, May 13, 1797 

I have sometimes asked myself whether my country is the better for my having lived at 
all? I do not know that it is. I have been the instrument of doing the following things; but 
they would have been done by others; some of them, perhaps, a little better. 
Thomas Jefferson, 1800 

I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over 

the mind of man. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Benjamin Rush, September 23, 1800 

I join cordially in admiring and revering the Constitution of the United States, the result 
of the collected wisdom of our country. That wisdom has committed to us the important 
task of proving by example that a government, if organized in all its parts on the 
Representative principle unadulterated by the infusion of spurious elements, if founded, 
not in the fears & follies of man, but on his reason, on his sense of right, on the 
predominance of the social over his dissocial passions, may be so free as to restrain him 
in no moral right, and so firm as to protect him from every moral wrong. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Amos Marsh, November 20, 1801 

I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people 
themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a 
wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their 
discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Charles Jarvis, September 28, 1820 

I leave to others the sublime delights of riding in the storm, better pleased with sound 
sleep & a warmer berth below it encircled, with the society of neighbors, friends & fellow 
laborers of the earth rather than with spies & sycophants...! have no ambition to govern 
men. It is a painful and thankless office. 
Thomas Jefferson, December 28, 1796 

I should consider the speeches of Livy, Sallust, and Tacitus, as preeminent specimens of 
logic, taste and that sententious brevity which, using not a word to spare, leaves not a 
moment for inattention to the hearer. Amplification is the vice of modern oratory. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to David Harding, April 20, 1824 

I suppose, indeed, that in public life, a man whose political principles have any decided 
character and who has energy enough to give them effect must always expect to encounter 
political hostility from those of adverse principles. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard M. Johnson, March 10, 1808 



I suppose, indeed, that in public life, a man whose political principles have any decided 
character and who has energy enough to give them effect must always expect to encounter 
political hostility from those of adverse principles. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard M. Johnson, 1808 

I think all the world would gain by setting commerce at perfect liberty. 
Thomas Jefferson, July 7, 1 785 



I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites 

living on the labor of the industrious. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Ludlow, September 6, 1824 

I will not believe our labors are lost. I shall not die without a hope that light and liberty 

are on a steady advance. 

Thomas Jefferson, September 12, 1821 

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those 

attending too small a degree of it. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Archibald Stewart, Dec 23, 1791 

If a nation expects to be ignorant — and free — in a state of civilization, it expects what 

never was and never will be. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Colonel Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816 

If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to 
which the people send 150 lawyers, whose trade it is to question everything, yield 
nothing, & talk by the hour? That 150 lawyers should do business together ought not to 
be expected. 
Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821 

If we can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people, under the 
pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Cooper, Nov 29, 1802 

If we move in mass, be it ever so circuitously, we shall attain our object; but if we break 
into squads, everyone pursuing the path he thinks most direct, we become an easy 
conquest to those who can now barely hold us in check. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Duane, 1811 

Harmony in the married state is the very first object to be aimed at. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Mary Jefferson Eppes, January 7, 1798 



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If, then, the control of the people over the organs of their government be the measure of 
its republicanism, and I confess I know no other measure, it must be agreed that our 
governments have much less of republicanism than ought to have been expected; in other 
words, that the people have less regular control over their agents, than their rights and 
their interests require. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, May 28, 1816 

In America, no other distinction between man and man had ever been known but that of 
persons in office exercising powers by authority of the laws, and private individuals. 
Among these last, the poorest laborer stood on equal ground with the wealthiest 
millionaire, and generally on a more favored one whenever their rights seem to jar. 
Thomas Jefferson, Answers to de Meusnier Questions, 1786 

In our private pursuits it is a great advantage that every honest employment is deemed 

honorable. I am myself a nail-maker. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Jean Nicolas Demeunier, April 29, 1795 

In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him 

down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. 

Thomas Jefferson, fair copy of the drafts of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, 1 798 

In times of peace the people look most to their representatives; but in war, to the 

executive solely. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Caeser Rodney, February 10, 1810 

Is it the Fourth? 

Thomas Jefferson, evening July 3; Jefferson died the next morning, July 4, 1826 

It behooves you, therefore, to think and act for yourself and your people. The great 
principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the 
aid of many counselors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. 
Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail. 
Thomas Jefferson, A Summary View of the Rights of British America, 1775 

It has been a source of great pain to me to have met with so many among [my] opponents 
who had not the liberality to distinguish between political and social opposition; who 
transferred at once to the person, the hatred they bore to his political opinions. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard M. Johnson, 1808 

It has long, however, been my opinion, and I have never shrunk from its expression... that 
the germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal 
Judiciary;... working like gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little 
tomorrow, and advancing its noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until 
all shall be usurped. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Hammond, August 18, 1821 



It is a duty certainly to give our sparings to those who want; but to see also that they are 
faithfully distributed, and duly apportioned to the respective wants of those receivers. 
And why give through agents whom we know not, to persons whom we know not, and in 
countries from which we get no account, where we can do it at short hand, to objects 
under our eye, through agents we know, and to supply wants we see? 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Michael Megear, May 29, 1823 

It is a happy circumstance in human affairs that evils which are not cured in one way will 

cure themselves in some other. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Sinclair, 1 791 

It is a wise rule and should be fundamental in a government disposed to cherish its credit, 
and at the same time to restrain the use of it within the limits of its faculties, "never to 
borrow a dollar without laying a tax in the same instant for paying the interest annually, 
and the principal within a given term; and to consider that tax as pledged to the creditors 
on the public faith." 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Wayles Eppes, June 24, 1813 

It is an established rule of construction, where a phrase will bear either of two meanings 
to give it that which will allow some meaning to the other parts of the instrument, and not 
that which will render all the others useless. Certainly no such universal power was meant 
to be given to them. It was intended to lace them up straightly with in the enumerated 
powers, and those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect. 
Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on a National Bank, February 15, 1791 

It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself Subject 
opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors? 
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17, 1 781 

It is not honorable to take mere legal advantage, when it happens to be contrary to justice. 
Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on Debts Due to Soldiers, 1790 

It is of great importance to set a resolution, not to be shaken, never to tell an untruth. 

There is no vice so mean, so pitiful, so contemptible; and he who permits himself to tell a 

lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and a third time, till at length it becomes 

habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world's believing him. 

This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good 

disposition. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, August 19, 1785 

It is the duty of every good citizen to use all the opportunities which occur to him, for 
preserving documents relating to the history of our country. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Hugh P. Taylor, October 4, 1823 

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It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy 
in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution. 
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia Query 19, 1781 

It must be observed that our revenues are raised almost wholly on imported goods. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Governor Morris, 1 793 

It should be our endeavor to cultivate the peace and friendship of every nation.... Our 
interest will be to throw open the doors of commerce, and to knock off all its shackles, 
giving perfect freedom to all persons for the vent to whatever they may choose to bring 
into our ports, and asking the same in theirs. 
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 22, 1787 

It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of instituting a Congress 
with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United States; and as they would 
be the sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do whatever evil they 
please. Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It [the 
Constitution] was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and 
those without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect. 
Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on a National Bank, February 15, 1791 

Jefferson was against any needless official apparel, but if the gown was to carry, he said: 
"For Heaven's sake discard the monstrous wig which makes the English judges look like 
rats peeping through bunches of oakum. 
Thomas Jefferson, commenting on judges' apparel 

Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by 

the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in 

metaphysical subtleties which may make anj^hing mean everything or nothing at 

pleasure. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823 

Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by 

the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in 

metaphysical subtleties which may make anj^hing mean everything or nothing at 

pleasure. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, 1823 

Love your neighbor as yourself and your country more than yourself 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Jefferson Smith, February 21, 1825 

My confidence is that there will for a long time be virtue and good sense enough in our 

countrymen to correct abuses. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Rutledge, 1 788 



Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most 
monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the spot of every wind. With such persons, 
gullibility, which they call faith, takes the helm from the hand of reason and the mind 
becomes a wreck. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Smith, December 8, 1822 

Men of energy of character must have enemies; because there are two sides to every 
question, and taking one with decision, and acting on it with effect, those who take the 
other will of course be hostile in proportion as they feel that effect. 
Thomas Jefferson, December 21, 1817 

My construction of the constitution is very different from that you quote. It is that each 
department is truly independent of the others, and has an equal right to decide for itself 
what is the meaning of the constitution in the cases submitted to its action; and especially, 
where it is to act ultimately and without appeal. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Adams Wells, May 12, 1819 

Natural rights [are] the objects for the protection of which society is formed and 

municipal laws established. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Monroe, 1791 

Newspapers... serve as chimneys to carry off noxious vapors and smoke. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thaddeus Kosciusko, April 2, 1802 

No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands]. 
Thomas Jefferson, Draft Constitution for the State of Virginia, June, 1776 

No government ought to be without censors & where the press is free, no one ever will. 
Thomas Jefferson, September 9, 1792 

No one more sincerely wishes the spread of information among mankind than I do, and 
none has greater confidence in its effect towards supporting free and good government. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Trustees for the Lottery of East Tennessee College, May 6, 
1810 

Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. 
Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821 

Nothing then is unchangeable but the inherent and unalienable rights of man. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Cartwright, 1824 

The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret 

war with the rights of mankind. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Hunter, March 11, 1790 



On every question of construction carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution 
was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates and instead of trying what 
meaning may be squeezed out of the text or invented against it, conform to the probable 
one in which it was passed. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, June 12, 1823 

The same prudence which in private life would forbid our paying our own money for 
unexplained projects, forbids it in the dispensation of the public moneys. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Shelton Gilliam, June 19, 1808 

The second office of this government is honorable & easy, the first is but a splendid 

misery. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, May 13, 1797 

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to 
be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be 
exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then. It is like a storm in the atmosphere. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Abigail Adams, February 22, 1787 

The steady character of our countrymen is a rock to which we may safely moor; and 
notwithstanding the efforts of the papers to disseminate early discontents, I expect that a 
just, dispassionate and steady conduct, will at length rally to a proper system the great 
body of our country. Unequivocal in principle, reasonable in manner, we shall be able I 
hope to do a great deal of good to the cause of freedom & harmony. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elbridge Gerry, March 29, 1801 

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and 

tyrants. It is its natural manure. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Stephens Smith, November 13, 1787 

The truth is that the want of common education with us is not from our poverty, but from 
the want of an orderly system. More money is now paid for the education of a part than 
would be paid for that of the whole if systematically arranged. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Cabell, November 28, 1820 

There must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by 
the existence of slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a 
perpetual exercise of the most boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the 
one part, and degrading submissions on the other. Our children see this, and learn to 
imitate it; for man is an imitative animal. This quality is the germ of all education in him. 
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 18, 1781 

This I hope will be the age of experiments in government, and that their basis will be 
founded in principles of honesty, not of mere force. 
Thomas Jefferson, 1796 



They are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay 
taxes for that purpose. To consider the latter phrase not as describing the purpose of the 
first, but as giving a distinct and independent power to do any act they please which may 
be good for the Union, would render all the preceding and subsequent enumerations of 
power completely useless. It would reduce the whole instrument to a single phrase, that of 
instituting a Congress with power to do whatever would be for the good of the United 
States; and as they sole judges of the good or evil, it would be also a power to do 
whatever evil they please... Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given 
them. It was intended to lace them up straightly within the enumerated powers and those 
without which, as means, these powers could not be carried into effect. 
Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on National Bank, 1791 

This letter will, to you, be as one from the dead. The writer will be in the grave before 
you can weigh its counsels. Your affectionate and excellent father has requested that I 
would address to you something which might possibly have a favorable influence on the 
course of life you have to run; and I too, as a namesake, feel an interest in that course. 
Few words will be necessary, with good dispositions on your part. Adore God. Reverence 
and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than 
yourself Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence. So shall the life into 
which you have entered be the portal to one of eternal and ineffable bliss. And if to the 
dead it is permitted to care for the things of this world, every action of your life will be 
under my regard. Farewell. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Jefferson Smith, February 21, 1825 

This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or 
new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been 
said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so 
plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent 
stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, 
nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an 
expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit 
called for by the occasion. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Henry Lee, May 8, 1825 

Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen, 
people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. 
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17, 1 781 

To all of which is added a selection from the elementary schools of subjects of the most 
promising genius, whose parents are too poor to give them further education, to be carried 
at the public expense through the college and university. The object is to bring into action 
that mass of talents which lies buried in poverty in every country, for want of the means 
of development, and thus give activity to a mass of mind, which, in proportion to our 
population, shall be double or treble of what it is in most countries. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Jose Correa de Serra, November 25, 1817 



To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has 
acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised 
equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the 
guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816 

To give to every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business; 
To enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his 
contracts and accounts, in writing; To improve, by reading, his morals and faculties; To 
understand his duties to his neighbors and country, and to discharge with competence the 
functions confided to him by either; To know his rights; to exercise with order and justice 
those he retains; to choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates; and to 
notice their conduct with diligence, with candor, and judgment; And, in general, to 
observe with intelligence and faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be 
placed. 

Thomas Jefferson, Report of the Commissioners for the University of Virginia, August 4, 
1818 

To restore... harmony,... to render us again one people acting as one nation should be the 

object of every man really a patriot. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas McKean, 1801 

War is not the best engine for us to resort to; nature has given us one in our commerce, 
which if properly managed, will be a better instrument for obliging the interested nations 
of Europe to treat us with justice. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Pickney, May 29, 1797 

We are firmly convinced, and we act on that conviction, that with nations as with 
individuals our interests soundly calculated will ever be found inseparable from our moral 
duties, and history bears witness to the fact that a just nation is trusted on its word when 
recourse is had to armaments and wars to bridle others. 
Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1805 

The example of changing a constitution by assembling the wise men of the state, instead 
of assembling armies, will be worth as much to the world as the former examples we had 
give them. The constitution, too, which was the result of our deliberation, is 
unquestionably the wisest ever yet presented to men. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to David Humphreys, March 18, 1789 

The foundation on which all [constitutions] are built is the natural equality of man, the 
denial of every preeminence but that annexed to legal office, and particularly the denial of 
a preeminence by birth. 
Thomas Jefferson, April 16, 1784 



The freedom and happiness of man... [are] the sole objects of all legitimate government. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thaddeus Kosciusko, 1810 

The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may 

destroy, but cannot disjoin them. 

Thomas Jefferson, Summary View of the Rights of British America, August 1774 

The germ of dissolution of our federal government is in the constitution of the federal 
judiciary; an irresponsible body, (for impeachment is scarcely a scare-crow) working like 
gravity by night and by day, gaining a little today and a little tomorrow, and advancing its 
noiseless step like a thief, over the field of jurisdiction, until all shall be usurped from the 
States, and the government of all be consolidated into one. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Hammond, Aug 18, 1821 

The good opinion of mankind, like the lever of Archimedes, with the given fulcrum, 

moves the world. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to M. Correa, December 27, 1814 

The great object of my fear is the federal judiciary. That body, like gravity, ever acting, 
with noiseless foot, and un-alarming advance, gaining ground step by step, and holding 
what it gains, is engulfing insidiously the special governments into the jaws of that which 
feeds them. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge Spencer Roane, Mar 9, 1821 

The greatest good we can do our country is to heal its party divisions and make them one 

people. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Dickinson, July 23, 1801 

The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have past at home in the 

bosom of my family. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Willis Jr., April 18, 1790 

The judiciary of the United States is the subtle corps of sappers and miners constantly 
working under ground to undermine the foundations of our confederated fabric. They are 
construing our constitution from a co-ordination of a general and special government to a 
general and supreme one alone. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Thomas Ritchie, December 25, 1820 

The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. 
But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It 
neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. 
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 17, 1 782 

The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Carrington, May 27, 1788 



The love of justice and the love of country plead equally the cause of these people, and it 
is a moral reproach to us that they should have pleaded it so long in vain. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Coles, August 25, 1814 

The most sacred of the duties of a government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all 

citizens. 

Thomas Jefferson, Note in Destutt de Tracy, 1816 

The multiplication of public offices, increase of expense beyond income, growth and 

entailment of a public debt, are indications soliciting the employment of the pruning 

knife. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Spencer Roane, March 9, 1821 

The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature for the instruction, 
the trusts, and government of society. And indeed it would have been inconsistent in 
creation to have formed man for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and 
wisdom enough to manage the concerns of the society. May we not even say that that 
form of government is the best which provides the most — for a pure selection of these 
natural aristoi into the offices of government? 
Thomas Jefferson, October 28, 1813 

The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is 

but swindling futurity on a large scale. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Taylor, May 28, 1816 

The principle of the Constitution is that of a separation of legislative. Executive and 
Judiciary functions, except in cases specified. If this principle be not expressed in direct 
terms, it is clearly the spirit of the Constitution, and it ought to be so commented and 
acted on by every friend of free government. 
Thomas Jefferson, January, 1797 

On every unauthoritative exercise of power by the legislature must the people rise in 
rebellion or their silence be construed into a surrender of that power to them? If so, how 
many rebellions should we have had already? 
Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 12, 1782 

On the whole, his character was, in its mass, perfect, in nothing bad, in few points 
indifferent; and it may truly be said, that never did nature and fortune combine more 
perfectly to make a man great, and to place him in the same constellation with whatever 
worthies have merited from man an everlasting remembrance. 
Thomas Jefferson, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones, January 2, 1814 

One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them. 
Thomas Jefferson, June 19, 1796 



One single object... [will merit] the endless gratitude of the society: that of restraining the 

judges from usurping legislation. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Edward Livingston, March 25, 1825 

Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a 

blank paper by construction. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Wilson Nicholas, September 7, 1803 

Our properties within our own territories [should not] be taxed or regulated by any power 

on earth but our own. 

Thomas Jefferson, Rights of British America, 1774 

Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none. 
Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 

People generally have more feeling for canals and roads than education. However, I hope 

we can advance them with equal pace. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joel Barlow , December 10, 1807 

Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence, never acting until every 
circumstance, every consideration, was maturely weighed; refraining if he saw a doubt, 
but, when once decided, going through with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. 
Thomas Jefferson, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones, January 2, 1814 

Reading, reflection and time have convinced me that the interests of society require the 
observation of those moral precepts... in which all religions agree. 
Thomas Jefferson, Westmoreland County Petition, November 2, 1785 

Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with government of himself Can he, 
then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of 
kings to govern him? Let history answer this question. 
Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 

Taxes should be continued by annual or biennial reeactments, because a constant hold, by 
the nation, of the strings of the public purse is a salutary restraint from which an honest 
government ought not wish, nor a corrupt one to be permitted, to be free. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Wayles Eppes, June 24, 1813 

Taxes should be proportioned to what may be annually spared by the individual. 
Thomas Jefferson, 1784 

That these are our grievances which we have thus laid before his majesty, with that 
freedom of language and sentiment which becomes a free people claiming their rights as 
derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate. 
Thomas Jefferson, Rights of British America, 1774 



The boisterous sea of liberty is never without a wave. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Richard Rush, October 20, 1820 

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only 
legitimate object of good government. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to The Republican Citizens of Washington County, Maryland, 
March 31, 1809 

The Constitution on which our Union rests, shall be administered by me [as President] 
according to the safe and honest meaning contemplated by the plain understanding of the 
people of the United States at the time of its adoption — a meaning to be found in the 
explanations of those who advocated, not those who opposed it, and who opposed it 
merely lest the construction should be applied which they denounced as possible. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter toMesrs. Eddy, Russel, Thurber, Wheaton and Smith, March 27, 
1801 

The Constitution... is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary which they may 

twist and shape into any form they please. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge Spencer Roane, September 6, 1819 

The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that 
they may exercise it by themselves in all cases to which they think themselves competent, 
or they may act by representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty 
to be at all times armed; that they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, 
freedom of property, and freedom of the press. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Cartwright, 1824 

The construction applied... to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which 
delegate Congress a power... ought not to be construed as themselves to give unlimited 
powers, nor a part to be so taken as to destroy the whole residue of that instrument. 
Thomas Jefferson, Draft Kentucky Resolutions, 1798 

The Declaration of Independence... [is the] declaratory charter of our rights, and the rights 

of man. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Adams Wells, May 12, 1821 

We established however some, although not all its [self-government] important principles 
. The constitutions of most of our States assert, that all power is inherent in the people; 
that they may exercise it by themselves, in all cases to which they think themselves 
competent, (as in electing their functionaries executive and legislative, and deciding by a 
jury of themselves, in all judiciary cases in which any fact is involved,) or they may act by 
representatives, freely and equally chosen; that it is their right and duty to be at all times 
armed. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Cartwright, 1824 



We have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice 
is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Holmes, Apr 22, 1820 

We lay it down as a fundamental, that laws, to be just, must give a reciprocation of right; 

that, without this, they are mere arbitrary rules of conduct, founded in force, and not in 

conscience. 

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the state of Virginia, 1 782 

We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816 

Were we directed from Washington when to sow, and when to reap, we should soon want 

bread. 

Thomas Jefferson, Autobiography, 1821 

What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed 
from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Stephens Smith, 1787 

Whatever enables us to go to war, secures our peace. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Monroe, October 24, 1823 

When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a 

view of the whole ground. 

Thomas Jefferson, Second Inaugural Address, 1805 

Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Yancey, January 6, 1816 

With those who wish to think amiss of me, I have learned to be perfectly indifferent; but 

where I know a mind to be ingenuous, and to need only truth to set it to rights, I cannot be 

passive. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Abigail Adams, 1804 

Would it not be better to simplify the system of taxation rather than to spread it over such 
a variety of subjects and pass through so many new hands. 
Thomas Jefferson, 1784 

A rigid economy of the public contributions and absolute interdiction of all useless 
expenses will go far towards keeping the government honest and unoppressive. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Marquis de Lafayette, November 4, 1823 

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A wise and frugal government... shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave 

them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall 

not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good 

government. 

Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 

But whatever be their degree of talent it is no measure of their rights. Because Sir Isaac 
Newton was superior to others in understanding, he was not therefore lord of the person 
or property of others. On this subject they are gaining daily in the opinions of nations, and 
hopeful advances are making towards their re- establishment on an equal footing with the 
other colors of the human family. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Henri Gregoire, February 25, 1809 

His was the singular destiny and merit, of leading the armies of his country successfully 
through an arduous war, for the establishment of its independence; of conducting its 
councils through the birth of a government, new in its forms and principles, until it had 
settled down into a quite and orderly train; and of scrupulously obeying the laws through 
the whole of his career, civil and military, of which the history of the world furnishes no 
other example. 
Thomas Jefferson, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr. Walter Jones, January 2, 1814 

It is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our 

Government.... Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever persuasion, religious or 

political... 

Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 

Let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may 
be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it. 
Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 

The people are in truth the only legitimate proprietors of the soil and government. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, 1813 

The flames kindled on the 4 of July 1 776, have spread over too much of the globe to be 
extinguished by the feeble engines of despotism; on the contrary, they will consume these 
engines and all who work them. 
Thomas Jefferson, September 12, 1821 

The opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and 
what not, not only for themselves, in their, own sphere of action, but for the Legislature 
and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Abigail Adams, September 11, 1804 



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The President, who errs as other men do, but errs with integrity. 

Thomas Jefferson, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to William Branch Giles, December 

31, 1795 

The States can best govern our home concerns and the general government our foreign 

ones. I wish, therefore... never to see all offices transferred to Washington, where, further 

withdrawn from the eyes of the people, they may more secretly be bought and sold at 

market. 

Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge William Johnson, June 12, 1823 

The true key for the construction of everything doubtful in a law is the intention of the 
law-makers. This is most safely gathered from the words, but may be sought also in 
extraneous circumstances provided they do not contradict the express words of the law. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Albert Gallatin, May 20, 1808 

To preserve the republican form and principles of our Constitution and cleave to the 
salutary distribution of powers which that [the Constitution] has established... are the two 
sheet anchors of our Union. If driven from either, we shall be in danger of foundering. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge William Johnson, June 12, 1823 

When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to 
Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of 
one government on another. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Charles Hammond, August 18, 1821 

The duty of an upright administration is to pursue its course steadily, to know nothing of 
these family dissentions, and to cherish the good principles of both parties. 
Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan, 1805 



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James Madison 



A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but 
experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1 788 

A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes 
oppress one species of property and reward another species. 
James Madison, Essay on Property, March 29, 1792 

A local spirit will infallibly prevail much more in the members of Congress than a 
national spirit will prevail in the legislatures of the particular States. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1 788 

A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a 
Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern 
ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with 
the power which knowledge gives. 
James Madison, letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822 



A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes 
place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking. 
James Madison, letter to William Hunter, March 11, 1790 



A universal peace, it is to be feared, is in the catalogue of events, which will never exist 

but in the imaginations of visionary philosophers, or in the breasts of benevolent 

enthusiasts. 

James Madison, essay in the National Gazette, February 2, 1792 

All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree. 
James Madison, speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787 

Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be 
connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human 
nature that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. What is 
government itself but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? 
James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788 

America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more 
forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand 
veterans ready for combat. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 14, November 30, 1787 

Among the features peculiar to the political system of the United States, is the perfect 
equality of rights which it secures to every religious sect. 
James Madison, letter to Jacob de la Motta, August 1820 

Among the numerous advantages promised by a well-constructed Union, none deserves to 

be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of 

faction. 

James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787 

An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the 
powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of 
magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually 
checked and restrained by the others. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 58, 1788 

An ELECTIVE DESPOTISM was not the government we fought for; but one which 

should not only be founded on free principles, but in which the powers of government 

should be so divided and balanced among several bodies of magistracy, as that no one 

could transcend their legal limits, without being effectually checked and restrained by the 

others. 

James Madison, Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788 

As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may be equally said to have a property 
in his rights. Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No 
man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions. 
James Madison, National Gazette Essay, March 27, 1792 



As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different 
opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his 
self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787 

As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought in all governments, and actually 
will in all free governments ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are 
particular moments in public affairs, when the people stimulated by some irregular 
passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested 
men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to 
lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of 
some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, 
and to suspend the blow mediated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice 
and truth, can regain their authority over the public mind? 
James Madison (likely), Federalist No. 63, 1788 

As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of 
circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a 
certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the 
existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures 
which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of 
the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men 
for self-government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them 
from destroying and devouring one another. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 55, February 15, 1788 

Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of 
almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people 
are attached and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the 
enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any 
form can admit of 
James Madison, Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788 

But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State 
governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. 
They would be signals of general alarm... But what degree of madness could ever drive 
the federal government to such an extremity. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 46, January 29, 1788 

Conscience is the most sacred of all property. 
James Madison, Essay on Property, March 29, 1792 

Enlightened statesmen will not always be at the helm. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787 



But the mild voice of reason, pleading the cause of an enlarged and permanent interest, is 
but too often drowned, before public bodies as well as individuals, by the clamors of an 
impatient avidity for immediate and immoderate gain. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 42, January 22, 1788 

Each State, in ratifying the Constitution, is considered as a sovereign body, independent 
of all others, and only to be bound by its own voluntary act. In this relation, then, the new 
Constitution will, if established, be a FEDERAL, and not a NATIONAL constitution. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 39, January 1788 

Energy in government is essential to that security against external and internal danger and 
to that prompt and salutary execution of the laws which enter into the very definition of 
good government. Stability in government is essential to national character and to the 
advantages annexed to it, as well as to that repose and confidence in the minds of the 
people, which are among the chief blessings of civil society. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 37, January 11, 1788 

Every man who loves peace, every man who loves his country, every man who loves 
liberty ought to have it ever before his eyes that he may cherish in his heart a due 
attachment to the Union of America and be able to set a due value on the means of 
preserving it. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 41, January 1788 

Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue; or in any manner affecting the 
value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the 
change and can trace its consequences; a harvest reared not by themselves but by the toils 
and cares of the great body of their fellow citizens. This is a state of things in which it 
may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few not for the many. 
James Madison (likely). Federalist No. 62, 1788 

For the same reason that the members of the State legislatures will be unlikely to attach 
themselves sufficiently to national objects, the members of the federal legislature will be 
likely to attach themselves too much to local objects. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 47, February 1, 1788 

Government is instituted to protect property of every sort; as well that which lies in the 
various rights of individuals, as that which the term particularly expresses. This being the 
end of government, that alone is a just government which impartially secures to every 
man whatever is his own. 
James Madison, Essay on Property, March 29, 1792 



Had every Athenian citizen been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have 

been a mob. 

James Madison, Federalist No. 55, February 15, 1788 



Happily for America, happily, we trust, for the whole human race, they pursued a new 
and more noble course. They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the 
annals of human society. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 14, November 20, 1787 

He was certainly one of the most learned men of the age. It may be said of him as has 

been said of others that he was a "walking Library," and what can be said of but few such 

prodigies, that the Genius of Philosophy ever walked hand in hand with him. 

James Madison, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Samuel Harrison Smith, November 4, 

1826 

How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could 
prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation? 
James Madison, Federalist No. 41, January 1788 

I acknowledge, in the ordinary course of government, that the exposition of the laws and 
Constitution devolves upon the judicial. But I beg to know upon what principle it can be 
contended that any one department draws from the Constitution greater powers than 
another in marking out the limits of the powers of the several departments. 
James Madison, speech in the Congress of the United States, June 17, 1789 

I entirely concur in the propriety of resorting to the sense in which the Constitution was 
accepted and ratified by the nation. In that sense alone it is the legitimate Constitution. 
And if that is not the guide in expounding it, there may be no security 
James Madison, letter to Henry Lee, June 25, 1824 

I own myself the friend to a very free system of commerce, and hold it as a truth, that 
commercial shackles are generally unjust, oppressive and impolitic — it is also a truth, 
that if industry and labor are left to take their own course, they will generally be directed 
to those objects which are the most productive, and this in a more certain and direct 
manner than the wisdom of the most enlightened legislature could point out. 
James Madison, speech to the Congress, April 9, 1789 

If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote 
the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated 
powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions. 
James Madison, letter to Edmund Pendleton, January 21, 1792 

Equal laws protecting equal rights — the best guarantee of loyalty and love of country. 
James Madison, letter to Jacob de la Motta, August 1820 

If individuals be not influenced by moral principles; it is in vain to look for public virtue; 
it is, therefore, the duty of legislators to enforce, both by precept and example, the utility, 
as well as the necessity of a strict adherence to the rules of distributive justice. 
James Madison, in response to Washington's first Inaugural address. May 18, 1789 



If it be asked what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal 
discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society? I answer, the 
genius of the whole system, the nature of just and constitutional laws, and above all the 
vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America, a spirit which nourishes 
freedom, and in return is nourished by it. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788 

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, 
neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a 
government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: 
you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, 
oblige it to control itself 
James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788 

If we resort for a criterion to the different principles on which different forms of 
government are established, we may define a republic to be, or at least may bestow that 
name on, a government which derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great 
body of the people, and is administered by persons holding their offices during pleasure 
for a limited period, or during good behavior. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 39, January 1788 

In a society under the forms of which the stronger faction can readily unite and oppress 
the weaker, anarchy may as truly be said to reign as in a state of nature. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 52, February 8, 1788 

In Europe, charters of liberty have been granted by power. America has set the example ... 
of charters of power granted by liberty. This revolution in the practice of the world, may, 
with an honest praise, be pronounced the most triumphant epoch of its history, and the 
most consoling presage of its happiness. 
James Madison, National Gazette Essay, January 18, 1792 

In forming the Senate, the great anchor of the Government, the questions as they came 
within the first object turned mostly on the mode of appointment, and the duration of it. 
James Madison, letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787 

In the first place, it is to be remembered, that the general government is not to be charged 
with the whole power of making and administering laws: its jurisdiction is limited to 
certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are 
not to be attained by the separate provisions of any. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 14, November 30, 1787 

It is a principle incorporated into the settled policy of America, that as peace is better than 

war, war is better than tribute. 

James Madison, letter to the Dey of Algiers, August, 1816 



Is it not the glory of the people of America, that whilst they have paid a decent regard to 
the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration 
for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good 
sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience? To 
this manly spirit, posterity will be indebted for the possession, and the world for the 
example of the numerous innovations displayed on the American theatre, in favor of 
private rights and public happiness. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 14, November 30, 1787 

Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical 
checks-no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of 
government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a 
chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be 
exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put 
confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them. 
James Madison, speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 20, 1788 

It becomes all therefore who are friends of a Government based on free principles to 

reflect, that by denying the possibility of a system partly federal and partly consolidated, 

and who would convert ours into one either wholly federal or wholly consolidated, in 

neither of which forms have individual rights, public order, and external safety, been all 

duly maintained, they aim a deadly blow at the last hope of true liberty on the face of the 

Earth. 

James Madison, Notes on Nullification 

It has been said that all Government is an evil. It would be more proper to say that the 
necessity of any Government is a misfortune. This necessity however exists; and the 
problem to be solved is, not what form of Government is perfect, but which of the forms 
is least imperfect. 
James Madison, to an unidentified correspondent, 1833 

It is due to justice; due to humanity; due to truth; to the sympathies of our nature; in fine, 
to our character as a people, both abroad and at home, that they should be considered, as 
much as possible, in the light of human beings, and not as mere property. As such, they 
are acted upon by our laws, and have an interest in our laws. 
James Madison, speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, December 2, 1829 

Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever 

will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit. 

James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788 

It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it [the Constitution] a 

finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our 

relief in the critical stages of the revolution. 

James Madison, Federalist No. 37, January 11, 1788 



It is sufficiently obvious, that persons and property are the two great subjects on which 
Governments are to act; and that the rights of persons, and the rights of property, are the 
objects, for the protection of which Government was instituted. These rights cannot well 
be separated. 
James Madison, Speech at the Virginia Convention, December 2, 1829 

It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he 
believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in 
degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society. 
James Madison, June 20, 1785 

It is too early for politicians to presume on our forgetting that the public good, the real 
welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme object to be pursued; and that no 
form of government whatever has any other value than as it may be fitted for the 
attainment of this object. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 45, January 26, 1788 

It may be considered as an objection inherent in the principle, that as every appeal to the 
people would carry an implication of some defect in the government, frequent appeals 
would in great measure deprive the government of that veneration which time bestows on 
every thing, and without which perhaps the wisest and freest governments would not 
possess the requisite stability. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 49, February 5, 1788 

It will not be denied that power is of an encroaching nature and that it ought to be 
effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it. After discriminating, 
therefore, in theory, the several classes of power, as they may in their nature be 
legislative, executive, or judiciary, the next and most difficult task is to provide some 
practical security for each, against the invasion of the others. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788 

No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly 
bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787 

Nothing is so contagious as opinion, especially on questions which, being susceptible of 
very different glosses, beget in the mind a distrust of itself 
James Madison, letter to Benjamin Rush, March 7, 1790 

No political truth is certainly of greater intrinsic value, or is stamped with the authority of 
more enlightened patrons of liberty than that on which the objection is founded. The 
accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, 
whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may 
justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788 



Nothing has yet been offered to invalidate the doctrine that the meaning of the 
Constitution may as well be ascertained by the Legislative as by the Judicial authority. 
James Madison, speech in the Congress of the United States, June 18, 1789 

Nothing more than a change of mind, my dear. 

James Madison, responding to his niece asking what was wrong, June 28, 1836 

On the distinctive principles of the Government ... of the U. States, the best guides are to 

be found in... The Declaration of Independence, as the fundamental Act of Union of these 

States. 

James Madison, letter to Thomas Jefferson, February 8, 1825 

One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788 

Public opinion sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free 

one. 

James Madison, Public Opinion, December 19, 1791 

Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble 

enterprise, every expanded prospect. 

James Madison, letter to William Bradford, April 1, 1774 

Stability in government is essential to national character and to the advantages annexed to 
it, as well as to that repose and confidence in the minds of the people, which are among 
the chief blessings of civil society. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 37, January 11, 1788 

Such an institution may be sometimes necessary as a defense to the people against their 
own temporary errors and delusions. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 63 

Such will be the relation between the House of Representatives and their constituents. 
Duty gratitude, interest, ambition itself, are the cords by which they will be bound to 
fidelity and sympathy with the great mass of the people. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788 

That diabolical Hell conceived principle of persecution rages among some and to their 
eternal Infamy the Clergy can furnish their Quota of Imps for such business, 
James Madison, letter to William Bradford, January 24, 1774 

That the most productive system of finance will always be the least burdensome. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 39, January 1788 



The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property is an act which seems 
to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is, perhaps, no legislative act in which 
greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party to trample on the 
rules of justice. Every shilling which they overburden the inferior number is a shilling 
saved to their own pockets. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787 

The best service that can be rendered to a Country, next to that of giving it liberty, is in 
diffusing the mental improvement equally essential to the preservation, and the enjoyment 
of the blessing. 
James Madison, letter to Littleton Dennis Teackle, March 29, 1826 

The civil rights of none, shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor 
shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience 
be in any manner, or on any pretext infringed. 

James Madison, proposed amendment to the Constitution, given in a speech in the House 
of Representatives, 1789 

The diversity in the faculties of men from which the rights of property originate, is not 
less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties 
is the first object of government. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787 

The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, 

will ever be liable to abuse. 

James Madison, speech in the Virginia constitutional convention, Dec 2, 1829 

The eyes of the world being thus on our Country, it is put the more on its good behavior, 
and under the greater obligation also, to do justice to the Tree of Liberty by an exhibition 
of the fine fruits we gather from it. 
James Madison, letter to James Monroe, December 16, 1824 

The great desideratum in Government is, so to modify the sovereignty as that it may be 
sufficiently neutral between different parts of the Society to control one part from 
invading the rights of another, and at the same time sufficiently controlled itself, from 
setting up an interest adverse to that of the entire Society. 
James Madison, letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787 

The house of representatives... can make no law which will not have its full operation on 
themselves and their friends, as well as the great mass of society. This has always been 
deemed one of the strongest bonds by which human policy can connect the rulers and the 
people together. It creates between them that communion of interest, and sympathy of 
sentiments, of which few governments have furnished examples; but without which every 
government degenerates into tyranny. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 57, February 19, 1788 



The invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government 
contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the 
mere instrument of the major number of the Constituents. 
James Madison, letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1788 

The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787 

The legislative department is everjrwhere extending the sphere of its activity and drawing 

all power into its impetuous vortex. 

James Madison, Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788 

The members of the legislative department... are numerous. They are distributed and dwell 
among the people at large. Their connections of blood, of friendship, and of acquaintance 
embrace a great proportion of the most influential part of the society... they are more 
immediately the confidential guardians of their rights and liberties. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 50, February 5, 1788 

The passions, therefore, not the reason, of the public would sit in judgment. But it is the 
reason, alone, of the public, that ought to control and regulate the government. The 
passions ought to be controlled and regulated by the government. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 49, February 5, 1788 

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and 
defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 45, January 26, 1788 

The right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication 
among the people thereon ... has ever been justly deemed the only effectual guardian of 
every other right. 
James Madison, Virginia Resolutions, December 21, 1798 

There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and 
silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. 
James Madison, speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 16, 1788 

There is no maxim in my opinion which is more liable to be misapplied, and which 
therefore needs elucidation than the current one that the interest of the majority is the 
political standard of right and wrong.... In fact it is only reestablishing under another 
name and a more specious form, force as the measure of right... 
James Madison, letter to James Monroe, October 5, 1786 



There is not a more important and fundamental principle in legislation, than that the ways 
and means ought always to face the public engagements; that our appropriations should 
ever go hand in hand with our promises. To say that the United States should be 
answerable for twenty- five millions of dollars without knowing whether the ways and 
means can be provided, and without knowing whether those who are to succeed us will 
think with us on the subject, would be rash and unjustifiable. Sir, in my opinion, it would 
be hazarding the public faith in a manner contrary to every idea of prudence. 
James Madison, Speech in Congress, April 22, 1790 

They accomplished a revolution which has no parallel in the annals of human society. 
They reared the fabrics of governments which have no model on the face of the globe. 
They formed the design of a great Confederacy, which it is incumbent on their successors 
to improve and perpetuate. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 14, November 30, 1787 

To render the justice of the war on our part the more conspicuous, the reluctance to 
commence it was followed by the earliest and strongest manifestations of a disposition to 
arrest its progress. The sword was scarcely out of the scabbard before the enemy was 
apprised of the reasonable terms on which it would be resheathed. 
James Madison, Second Inaugural Address, March, 1813 

To the press alone, checkered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the 
triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression. 
James Madison, Report on the Virginia Resolutions, 1798 

To the press alone, checkered as it is with abuses, the world is indebted for all the 
triumphs which have been gained by reason and humanity over error and oppression. 
James Madison, Report on the Resolutions, 1799 

We are teaching the world the great truth that Governments do better without Kings & 
Nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson that Religion 
Flourishes in greater purity, without than with the aid of Government. 
James Madison, letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822 

We have heard of the impious doctrine in the old world, that the people were made for 
kings, not kings for the people. Is the same doctrine to be revived in the new, in another 
shape — that the solid happiness of the people is to be sacrificed to the views of political 
institutions of a different form? It is too early for politicians to presume on our forgetting 
that the public good, the real welfare of the great body of the people, is the supreme 
object to be pursued; and that no form of government whatever has any other value than 
as it may be fitted for the attainment of this object. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 45, January 26, 1788 

Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression. 
James Madison, letter to Thomas Jefferson, October 17, 1788 



The operations of the federal government will be most extensive and important in times 
of war and danger; those of the State governments, in times of peace and security. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 45, January 26, 1788 

We have seen the mere distinction of color made in the most enlightened period of time, a 
ground of the most oppressive dominion ever exercised by man over man. 
James Madison, speech at the Constitutional Convention, June 6, 1787 

What is to be the consequence, in case the Congress shall misconstrue this part [the 
necessary and proper clause] of the Constitution and exercise powers not warranted by its 
true meaning, I answer the same as if they should misconstrue or enlarge any other power 
vested in them... the success of the usurpation will depend on the executive and judiciary 
departments, which are to expound and give effect to the legislative acts; and in a last 
resort a remedy must be obtained from the people, who can by the elections of more 
faithful representatives, annul the acts of the usurpers. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 44, January 25, 1788 

What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable, than that of Liberty and 
Learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual & surest support? 
James Madison, letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822 

Whatever may be the judgment pronounced on the competency of the architects of the 
Constitution, or whatever may be the destiny of the edifice prepared by them, I feel it a 
duty to express my profound and solemn conviction ... that there never was an assembly 
of men, charged with a great and arduous trust, who were more pure in their motives, or 
more exclusively or anxiously devoted to the object committed to them. 
James Madison, circa 1835 

Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe 
in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions. 
James Madison, essay in the National Gazette, March 27, 1792 

Whilst the last members were signing it Doctr. Franklin looking towards the Presidents 
chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few 
members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising 
from a setting sun. 
James Madison, Farrand's Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 

You give me a credit to which I have no claim in calling me "the writer of the 

Constitution of the United States." This was not, like the fabled Goddess of Wisdom, the 

offspring of a single brain. It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many 

hands. 

James Madison, letter to William Cogswell, March 10, 1834 



Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been 
found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general, 
been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787 

He will live in the memory and gratitude of the wise & good, as a luminary of Science, as 
a votary of liberty, as a model of patriotism, and as a benefactor of human kind. 
James Madison, on Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Nicholas P. Trist, July 6, 1826 

In the next place, to show that unless these departments be so far connected and blended 

as to give to each a constitutional control over the others, the degree of separation which 

the maxim requires, as essential to a free government, can never in practice be duly 

maintained. 

James Madison, Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788 

Refusing or not refusing to execute a law to stamp it with its final character... makes the 
Judiciary department paramount in fact to the Legislature, which was never intended and 
can never be proper. 
James Madison, letter to John Brown, October, 1788 

The Convention thought it wrong to admit in the Constitution the idea that there could be 

property in men. 

James Madison, Records of the Convention, August 25, 1787 

The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified 
objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no 
part of the legislative duty of the government. 
James Madison, speech in the House of Representatives, January 10, 1794 

The great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same 
department consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary 
constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachment of the others. 
James Madison, Federalist No. 10, November 23, 1787 



2009 B.A. Brooks All Rights Reserved 




Thomas Paine 



A little matter will move a party, but it must be something great that moves a nation. 
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1792 

A nation under a well regulated government, should permit none to remain uninstructed. 

It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its 

support. 

Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1792 

As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting 
to ensure any thing which we may bequeath to posterity: And by a plain method of 
argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, 
otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty 
rightly, we should take our children in our hand, and fix our station a few years farther 
into life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a few present fears and prejudices 
conceal from our sight. 
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1 776 

But where says some is the King of America? I'll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and 

doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. . . let it be brought forth 

placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the 

world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS 

KING. 

Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776 



Everything that is right or reasonable pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the 
weeping voice of nature cries, 'tis time to part. 
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776 

Freedom had been hunted round the globe; reason was considered as rebellion; and the 
slavery of fear had made men afraid to think. But such is the irresistible nature of truth, 
that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. 
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791 

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; 
for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself 
Thomas Paine, Dissertation on First Principles of Government, December 23, 1791 

I consider the war of America against Britain as the country's war, the public's war, or the 
war of the people in their own behalf, for the security of their natural rights, and the 
protection of their own property. 
Thomas Paine, On Financing the War, 1 782 

I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow 
brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, 
and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death. 
Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, December 19, 1776 

If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace. 
Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, December 19, 1776 

If, from the more wretched parts of the old world, we look at those which are in an 
advanced stage of improvement, we still find the greedy hand of government thrusting 
itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping the spoil of the multitude. 
Invention is continually exercised, to furnish new pretenses for revenues and taxation. It 
watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without tribute. 
Thomas Paine, Rights of Man, 1791 

It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and 
even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is 
as murderous as the violence of the wolf 
Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, December 19, 1776 

Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have induced me to support an 
offensive war, for I think it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and 
destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it, and to "bind 
me in all cases whatsoever" to his absolute will, am I to suffer it? 
Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, December 19, 1776 



Now is the seedtime of continental union, faith and honor. The least fracture now, will be 
like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound 
would enlarge with the tree, and posterity read in it full grown characters. 
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776 

Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a 
necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer or are exposed to 
the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without 
government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which 
we suffer. 
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776 

The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. 
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776 

The Grecians and Romans were strongly possessed of the spirit of liberty but not the 
principle, for at the time they were determined not to be slaves themselves, they 
employed their power to enslave the rest of mankind. 
Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 5, March 21, 1778 

The reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously 
meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford 
neither friendship nor safety. 
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776 

The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. 
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776 

The times that tried men's souls are over-and the greatest and completest revolution the 
world ever knew, gloriously and happily accomplished. 
Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 13, 1783 

These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, 
in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves 
the love and thanks of man and woman. 
Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, December 19, 1776 

This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious 
liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of 
the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the 
same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still. 
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776 

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues 

of supporting it. 

Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 4, September 11, 1777 



Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the 

harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. 

Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, December 19, 1776 

We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for 

honest men to live in. 

Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 4, September 11, 1777 

We have it in our power to begin the world over again. 
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776 

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing 

its value. 

Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, December 19, 1776 

When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary. 
Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776 



2009 B.A. Brooks All Rights Reserved 




George Washington 



Tis folly in one Nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with 
a portion of its Independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that by such 
acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal 
favors and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no 
greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favors from Nation to Nation. 'Tis an 
illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard. 
George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 

'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent Alliances, with any portion of the foreign 

world. 

George Washington, FareM'ell Address, September 19, 1796 

A people... who are possessed of the spirit of commerce, who see and who will pursue 

their advantages may achieve almost anything. 

George Washington, letter to Benjamin Harrison, October 10, 1784 



Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence, (I conjure you to believe me fellow 

citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and 

experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican 

Government. 

George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 



All see, and most admire, the glare which hovers round the external trappings of elevated 
office. To me there is nothing in it, beyond the luster which may be reflected from its 
connection with a power of promoting human felicity. 
George Washington, letter to Catherine Macaulay Graham, January 9, 1 790 

And you will, by the dignity of your Conduct, afford occasion for Posterity to say, when 
speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to Mankind, had this day been 
wanting, the World had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is 
capable of attaining. 
George Washington, The Newburgh Address, January 2, 1783 

Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused to licentiousness. 
George Washington, Circular to the States, May 9, 1 753 

But if we are to be told by a foreign Power ... what we shall do, and what we shall not do, 
we have Independence yet to seek, and have contended hitherto for very little. 
George Washington, letter to Alexander Hamilton, May 8, 1796 

Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its 
virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles 
human Nature. 
George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 

Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate 
your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, 
must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from 
local discriminations. 
George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 

Democratical States must always feel before they can see: it is this that makes their 

Governments slow, but the people will be right at last. 

George Washington, letter to Marquis de Lafayette, July 25, 1785 

Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country. 
George Washington, letter to Benedict Arnold, September 14, 1775 

For myself the delay [in assuming the office of the President] may be compared with a 
reprieve; for in confidence I assure you, with the world it would obtain little credit that 
my movements to the chair of Government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike 
those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution: so unwilling am I, in the 
evening of a life nearly consumed in public cares, to quit a peaceful abode for an Ocean 
of difficulties, without that competency of political skill, abilities and inclination which is 
necessary to manage the helm. 
George Washington, comment to General Henry Knox, March 1789 



Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for, I have grown not only gray, 
but almost blind in the service of my country. 

George Washington, upon fumbling for his glasses before delivering the Newburgh 
Address, March 15, 1783 

Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism. 
George Washington, FareM' ell Address, September 19, 1796 

Happy, thrice happy shall they be pronounced hereafter, who have contributed any thing, 
who have performed the meanest office in erecting this stupendous fabrick of Freedom 
and Empire on the broad basis of Independency; who have assisted in protecting the 
rights of humane nature and establishing an Asylum for the poor and oppressed of all 
nations and religions. 
George Washington, General Orders, April 18, 1783 

I am principled against this kind of traffic in the human species... and to disperse the 

families I have an aversion. 

George Washington, letter to Robert LeM'is, August 18, 1799 

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all Nations, are recommended by policy, humanity and 

interest. But even our Commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand: 

neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course 

of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of Commerce, but 

forcing nothing; establishing with Powers so disposed; in order to give trade a stable 

course. 

George Washington, FareM' ell Address, September 19, 1796 

Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action; and 

bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long 

acted, I here offer my commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public 

life. 

George Washington, Address to Congress on Resigning his Commission, December 23, 

1783 

I can truly say I had rather be at Mount Vernon with a friend or two about me, than to be 
attended at the Seat of Government by the Officers of State and the Representatives of 
every Power in Europe. 
George Washington, letter to David Stuart, June 15, 1790 

I give my signature to many Bills with which my Judgment is at variance.... From the 
Nature of the Constitution, I must approve all parts of a Bill, or reject it in total. To do the 
latter can only be Justified upon the clear and obvious grounds of propriety; and I never 
had such confidence in my own faculty of judging as to be over tenacious of the opinions 
I may have imbibed in doubtful cases. 
George Washington, letter to Edmund Pendleton, September 23, 1793 



I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the 
virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong. 
George Washington, letter to Francis Van der Kamp, May 28, 1 788 

I have always considered marriage as the most interesting event of one's life, the 

foundation of happiness or misery. 

George Washington, letter to Burw ell Bassett, May 23, 1785 

I have often expressed my sentiments, that every man, conducting himself as a good 
citizen, and being accountable to God alone for his religious opinions, ought to be 
protected in worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience. 
George Washington, letter to the General Committee of the United Baptist Churches in 
Virginia, May, 1 789 

I hope, some day or another, we shall become a storehouse and granary for the world. 
George Washington, letter to Marquis de Lafayette, June 19, 1788 

I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and the State over which you 
preside, in his holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate 
a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection 
and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large, and 
particularly for their brethren who have served in the Field, and finally, that he would 
most graciously be pleased to dispose us all, to do Justice, to love mercy, and to demean 
ourselves with that Charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the 
Characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed Religion, and without an humble 
imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy Nation. 
George Washington, circular letter of farewell to the Army, June 8, 1783 

I rejoice in a belief that intellectual light will spring up in the dark corners of the earth; 
that freedom of enquiry will produce liberality of conduct; that mankind will reverse the 
absurd position that the many were, made for the few; and that they will not continue 
slaves in one part of the globe, when they can become freemen in another. 
George Washington, draft of First Inaugural Address, April 1 789 

I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and 

love. 

George Washington, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789 

I wish from my soul that the legislature of this State could see a policy of a gradual 

Abolition of Slavery. 

George Washington, letter to Lawrence Lewis, August 4, 1797 

In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential 

that public opinion should be enlightened. 

George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 



If we desire to insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the 
most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all 
times ready for War. 
George Washington, Annual Message, December 1793 

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no 
recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment. 
George Washington, FareM' ell Address, September 19, 1796 

It appears to me, then, little short of a miracle, that the Delegates from so many different 
States ... should unite in forming a system of national Government, so little liable to well 
founded objections. 
George Washington, letter to Marquis de Lafayette, February 7, 1 788 

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of 
people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for happily, the 
Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no 
assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean 
themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. 
George Washington, letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, 
August 17, 1790 

It is on great occasions only, and after time has been given for cool and deliberate 
reflection, that the real voice of the people can be known. 
George Washington, letter to Edward Carrington, May 1, 1 796 

It is too probable that no plan we propose will be adopted. Perhaps another dreadful 
conflict is to be sustained. If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disprove, 
how can we afterwards defend our work? Let us raise a standard to which the wise and 
the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God. 

George Washington, as quoted by Governor Morris in Farrand's Records of the Federal 
Convention of 1787, March 25, 1787 

It is yet to be decided whether the Revolution must ultimately be considered as a blessing 
or a curse: a blessing or a curse, not to the present age alone, for with our fate will the 
destiny of unborn millions be involved. 
George Washington, Circular to the States, 1 783 

It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, 
and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his 
immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp 
political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn. 
George Washington, letter to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, September 5, 1789 

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It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to 
mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a People always guided by an 
exalted justice and benevolence. 
George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 

It will not be doubted, that with reference either to individual, or National Welfare, 
Agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as Nations advance in population, and 
other circumstances of maturity, this truth becomes more apparent; and renders the 
cultivation of the Soil more and more, an object of public patronage. 
George Washington, Eighth Annual Message to Congress, 1796 

Jealousy, and local policy mix too much in all our public councils for the good 
government of the Union. In a words, the confederation appears to me to be little more 
than a shadow without the substance.... 
George Washington, letter to James Warren, October 7, 1785 

Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness. 
George Washington, First Annual Message, January 8, 1790 

Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience. 
George Washington, The Rules of Civility, Circa 1748 

Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner 
against the baneful effects of the Spirit of Party generally.... A fire not to be quenched, it 
demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, 
it should consume. 
George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 

Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a plant of rapid growth. 
George Washington, letter to James Madison, March 2, 1788 

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us 

in all our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly 

happy. 

George Washington, letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, 

August 17, 1790 

More permanent and genuine happiness is to be found in the sequestered walks of 
connubial life than in the giddy rounds of promiscuous pleasure. 
George Washington, letter to the Marquis de la Rourie, August 10, 1786 

My anxious recollections, my sympathetic feeling, and my best wishes are irresistibly 

excited when so ever, in any country, I see an oppressed nation unfurl the banners of 

freedom. 

George Washington, letter to Pierre Auguste Adet, January 1, 1796 



My ardent desire is, and my aim has been... to comply strictly with all our engagements 
foreign and domestic; but to keep the U States free from political connections with every 
other Country. To see that they may be independent of all, and under the influence of 
none. In a word, I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be 
convinced we act for ourselves and not for others; this, in my judgment, is the only way to 
be respected abroad and happy at home. 
George Washington, letter to Patrick Henry, October 9, 1 775 

My policy has been, and will continue to be, while I have the honor to remain in the 
administration of the government, to be upon friendly terms with, but independent of, all 
the nations of the earth. To share in the broils of none. To fulfill our own engagements. 
To supply the wants, and be carriers for them all: Being thoroughly convinced that it is 
our policy and interest to do so. 

George Washington, letter to Governor Morris, December 22, 1795 
Next Monday the Convention in Virginia will assemble; we have still good hopes of its 
adoption here: though by no great plurality of votes. South Carolina has probably decided 
favorably before this time. The plot thickens fast. A few short weeks will determine the 
political fate of America for the present generation, and probably produce no small 
influence on the happiness of society through a long succession of ages to come. 
George Washington, letter to Marquis de Lafayette, May 28, 1 788 

No compact among men... can be pronounced everlasting and inviolable, and if I may so 
express myself, that no Wall of words, that no mound of parchment can be so formed as 
to stand against the sweeping torrent of boundless ambition on the one side, aided by the 
sapping current of corrupted morals on the other. 
George Washington, draft of First Inaugural Address, April 1 789 

No country upon earth ever had it more in its power to attain these blessings than United 
America. Wondrously strange, then, and much to be regretted indeed would it be, were 
we to neglect the means and to depart from the road which Providence has pointed us to 
so plainly; I cannot believe it will ever come to pass. 
George Washington, letter to Benjamin Lincoln, June 29, 1788 

No morn ever dawned more favorable than ours did; and no day was every more clouded 
than the present! Wisdom, and good examples are necessary at this time to rescue the 
political machine from the impending storm. 
George Washington, letter to James Madison, November 5, 1786 

No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of 

the public debt: on none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more 

valuable. 

George Washington, Message to the House of Representatives, December 3, 1793 



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No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the 
Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have 
advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by 
some token of providential agency. 
George Washington, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789 

No taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant. 
George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 

Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all. 
George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 

Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind! 

George Washington, letter to James Warren, March 31, 1779 

Our own Country's Honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we 

now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely 

upon the goodness of the Cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands 

Victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble Actions — The Eyes of all our 

Countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings, and praises, if happily 

we are the instruments of saving them from the Tyranny mediated against them. Let us 

therefore animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world, that a Freeman 

contending for Liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth. 

George Washington, General Orders, July 2, 1 776 

Promote then as an object of primary importance. Institutions for the general diffusion of 
knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, 
it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened. 
George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 

Speak seldom, but to important subjects, except such as particularly relate to your 
constituents, and, in the former case, make yourself perfectly master of the subject. 
George Washington, Public Speaking, November 10, 1787 

The Army (considering the irritable state it is in, its suffering and composition) is a 

dangerous instrument to play with. 

George Washington, letter to Alexander Hamilton, April 4, 1783 

The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their 
Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution which at any time exists, 'till changed 
by an explicit and authentic act of the whole People is sacredly obligatory upon all. 
George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 

The best and only safe road to honor, glory, and true dignity is justice. 
George Washington, letter to Marquis de Lafayette, September 30, 1779 



The best means of forming a manly, virtuous, and happy people will be found in the right 
education of youth. Without this foundation, every other means, in my opinion, must fail. 
George Washington, letter to George Chapman, December 15, 1784 

The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respectable Stranger, 
but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome 
to a participation of all our rights and privileges, if by decency and propriety of conduct 
they appear to merit the enjoyment. 

George Washington, Address to the Members of the Volunteer Association of Ireland, 
December 2, 1783 

The Constitution which at any time exists, 'till changed by an explicit and authentic act of 

the whole People is sacredly obligatory upon all. 

George Washington, FareM' ell Address, September 19, 1796 

The Citizens of America, placed in the most enviable condition, as the sole Lords and 

Proprietors of a vast Tract of Continent, comprehending all the various soils and climates 

of the World, and abounding with all the necessaries and conveniences of life 

George Washington, Circular to the States, June 8, 1 783 

The citizens of the United States of America have the right to applaud themselves for 
having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy worthy of imitation. 
All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more 
that toleration is spoken of as if it were by the indulgence of one class of citizens that 
another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for happily the Government 
of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, 
requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good 
citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. 

George Washington, letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, 
September 9, 1790 

The consciousness of having discharged that duty which we owe to our country is 

superior to all other considerations. 

George Washington, letter to James Madison, March 2, 1788 

The establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty was the Motive which induced me to 
the Field — the object is attained — and it now remains to be my earnest wish & prayer, 
that the Citizens of the United States could make a wise and virtuous use of the blessings 
placed before them. 

George Washington, letter to the Reformed German Congregation of New York City, 
November 27, 1783 

The executive branch of this government never has, nor will suffer, while I preside, any 

improper conduct of its officers to escape with impunity. 

George Washington, letter to Governor Morris, December 22, 1795 



The foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles 

of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the 

attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the 

world. 

George Washington, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789 

The hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the 
safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are 
Freemen, fighting for the blessings of Liberty — that slavery will be your portion, and 
that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men. 
George Washington, General Orders, August 23, 1776 

The liberty enjoyed by the people of these states of worshiping Almighty God agreeably 

to their conscience, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their 

rights. 

George Washington, to the Annual meeting of Quakers, September 1789 

The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always 

exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local 

discriminations. 

George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796 

The nation which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is 
in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is 
sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. 
George Washington, letter to Alexander Hamilton, May 8, 1796 

The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of 
government, are justly considered deeply, perhaps as finally, staked on the experiment 
entrusted to the hands of the American people. 
George Washington, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789 

The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the 
eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained. 
George Washington, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789 

The scheme, my dear Marquis, which you propose as a precedent, to encourage the 
emancipation of the black people of this Country from that state of Bondage in wch. they 
are held, is a striking evidence of the benevolence of your Heart. I shall be happy to join 
you in so laudable a work. 
George Washington, letter to Marquis de Lafayette, April 5, 1 785 

There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favors from Nation to 
Nation. 'Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard. 
George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 



The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, 
and thus to create whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of 
that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart is 
sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. 
George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 

The value of liberty was thus enhanced in our estimation by the difficulty of its 
attainment, and the worth of characters appreciated by the trial of adversity. 
George Washington, letter to the people of South Carolina, Circa 1 790 

There exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue 

and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest 

and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we 

ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected 

on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has 

ordained. 

George Washington, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789 

There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not 
absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be 
able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our 
rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war. 
George Washington, Annual Message, December 1793 

There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily. 
George Washington, letter to Edmund Randolph, July 31, 1795 

Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. 
The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free Government. 
George Washington, Farewell Address, September 19, 1796 

To be prepared for war, is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace. 
George Washington, First Annual Message, January 8, 1790 

To form a new Government, requires infinite care, and unbounded attention; for if the 

foundation is badly laid the superstructure must be bad. 

George Washington, letter to John Augustine Washington, May 31, 1776 

We are either a United people, or we are not. If the former, let us, in all maters of general 
concern act as a nation, which have national objects to promote, and a national character 
to support. If we are not, let us no longer act a farce by pretending to it. 
George Washington, letter to James Madison, November 30, 1785 

We must take human nature as we find it, perfection falls not to the share of mortals. 
George Washington, letter to John Jay, August 15, 1786 



We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has 
triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition, and that every person may here 
worship God according to the dictates of his own heart. In this enlightened Age and in 
this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the 
protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest 
Offices that are known in the United States. 

George Washington, letter to the Members of the New Church in Baltimore, January 27, 
1793 

We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die: Our won Country's Honor, all call upon 
us for vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become 
infamous to the whole world. Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the Cause, and 
the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands Victory is, to animate and encourage us to 
great and noble Actions. 
George Washington, General Orders, July 2, 1 776 

We should never despair, our Situation before has been unpromising and has changed for 
the better, so I trust, it will again. If new difficulties arise, we must only put forth new 
Exertions and proportion our Efforts to the exigency of the times. 
George Washington, letter to Philip Schuyler, July 15, 1777 

When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen; and we shall most 
sincerely rejoice with you in the happy hour when the establishment of American Liberty, 
upon the most firm and solid foundations shall enable us to return to our Private Stations 
in the bosom of a free, peacefully and happy Country. 
George Washington, address to the New York Legislature, June 26, 1775 

Your love of liberty — your respect for the laws — your habits of industry — and your 
practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and 
individual happiness. 
George Washington, letter to the Residents of Boston, October 27, 1789 

A good moral character is the first essential in a man, and that the habits contracted at 

your age are generally indelible, and your conduct here may stamp your character through 

life. It is therefore highly important that you should endeavor not only to be learned but 

virtuous. 

George Washington, December 5, 1790 

Honesty will be found on every experiment, to be the best and only true policy; let us then 

as a Nation be just. 

George Washington, Circular letter to the States, June 14, 1783 

The first transactions of a nation, like those of an individual upon his first entrance into 
life make the deepest impression, and are to form the leading traits in its character. 
George Washington, letter to John Armstrong, April 25, 1 788 



Let the poor the needy and oppressed of the Earth, and those who want Land, resort to the 
fertile plains of our western country, the second land of Promise, and there dwell in 
peace, fulfilling the first and great commandment. 
George Washington, letter to David Humphreys, July 25, 1 785 

The hour is fast approaching, on which the Honor and Success of this army, and the 
safety of our bleeding Country depend. Remember officers and Soldiers, that you are 
Freemen, fighting for the blessings of Liberty — that slavery will be your portion, and 
that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men. 
George Washington, General Orders, August 23, 1776 

Nor did I believe until lately, that it was within the bonds of probability; hardly within 
those of possibility, that, while I was using my utmost exertions to establish a national 
character of our own, independent, as far as our obligations, and justice would permit, of 
every nation of the earth; and wished, by steering a steady course, to preserve this 
Country from the horrors of a desolating war, that I should be accused of being the enemy 
of one Nation, and subject to the influence of another; and to prove it, that every act of 
my administration would be tortured, and the grossest, and most insidious 
misrepresentations of them be made (by giving one side only of a subject, and that too in 
such exaggerated and indecent terms as could scarcely be applied to a Nero; a notorious 
defaulter; or even to a common pick-pocket). 
George Washington, letter to Thomas Jefferson, July 6, 1 796 

The foundation of a great Empire is laid, and I please myself with a persuasion, that 

Providence will not leave its work imperfect. 

George Washington, letter to Chevalier de LaLuzeme, August 1, 1786 

The great Searcher of human hearts is my witness, that I have no wish, which aspires 
beyond the humble and happy lot of living and dying a private citizen on my own farm. 
George Washington, letter to Charles Pettit, August 16, 1788 

The policy or advantage of [immigration] taking place in a body (I mean the settling of 
them in a body) may be much questioned; for, by so doing, they retain the Language, 
habits and principles (good or bad) which they bring with them. Whereas by an 
intermixture with our people, they, or their descendants, get assimilated to our customs, 
measures and laws: in a word, soon become one people. 
George Washington, November 15, 1794 

The propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the 
eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained. 
George Washington, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789 

There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for 

the abolition of it. 

George Washington, letter to Robert Morris, April 12, 1786 



There exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue 
and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest 
and magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity. 
George Washington, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789 

We ought to deprecate the hazard attending ardent and susceptible minds, from being too 

strongly, and too early prepossessed in favor of other political systems, before they are 

capable of appreciating their own. 

George Washington, letter to the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, January 28, 

1795 

Your late purchase of an estate in the colony of Cayenne, with a view to emancipating the 
slaves on it, is a generous and noble proof of your humanity. Would to God a like spirit 
would diffuse itself generally into the minds of the people of this country; but I despair of 
seeing it. 
George Washington, letter to Marquis de Lafayette, May 10, 1786 



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